The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has highlighted the country’s “shameful role” in the Myanmar military regime’s “genocidal campaign” against the Rohingya Muslim minority, citing Tel Aviv’s arms sales to the South East Asian country and the two countries growing ties.
An opinion piece by Charles Dunst yesterday criticised Israel’s passive stance towards the stateless Rohingya population, claiming that Israel gave Myanmar the tools and diplomatic space to carry out the atrocities.
Dunst also recalled how he met with the Israeli ambassador to Myanmar last year, Ronen Gilor, and brought up the persecution of the Rohingya and Israeli arms sales to the country, noting that Gilor refused to answer his questions.
Gilor recently came under fire for a now deleted tweet in which he wished “good luck” to Myanmar’s delegation headed by de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi ahead of a genocide hearing at the Hague, which took place on Tuesday.
The statement was later condemned by the Israeli Foreign Ministry describing it as written in “error”.
More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since a 2017 crackdown by Myanmar’s military killed 24,000, UN investigators say was carried out with “genocidal intent”.
According to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA), “some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalised”.
Buddhist majority Myanmar denies accusations of genocide.
According to the Burma Citizenship Law of 1982, the Myanmarese belong to eight indigenous races: the Bamar, Chin, Kachin, Kayin, Kayah, Mon, Rakhine and Shan, which are divided into 135 distinct ethnic groups. The Rohingya are not considered as belonging to any of these groups and therefore are not citizens. Instead they are referred to as “Bengalis”.
Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar’s first prime minister U Nu is said to have had a “soft spot for Israel,” and was close with Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Nu was the first premier to visit the nascent state of Israel in 1955.