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Haaretz: Morocco secretly received weapons from Israel years before normalisation

March 20, 2021 at 11:26 am

Director General of Israel’s Population and Immigration Agency Shlomo Mor-Yosef (L) and Minister Delegate to Morocco’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohcine Jazouli sign an agreement at the Royal Palace in the Moroccan capital Rabat on December 22, 2020 [FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]

A Hebrew newspaper shed light on “secret military relations” between Morocco and Israel, which started many years before signing the normalisation agreement in December 2020.

Researcher Jonathan Hempel, a specialist in Israeli military and security export, disclosed in an article published by Haaretz that Israeli military exports were covertly delivered to Morocco.

Hempel added that in the 1970s, Israel shipped tanks to Morocco, and from 2000 to 2020, officials from both countries made a number of secret and unclassified visits.

According to the researcher, relations between the two countries have mainly focused on intelligence cooperation and arms sales. Israel has sold Moroccan military systems, military communications systems and surveillance systems (such as radar systems for combat aircraft) through a third party.

He added that the Royal Moroccan Air Force bought three Heron drones manufactured by the Israel Aerospace Industries in 2013 at the cost of $50 million.

The researcher pointed out that Israel had provided military aid to Morocco to combat the “rebels of the Great Sahara”, describing the new aircraft acquired by the kingdom as part of a long history of arms sales.

READ: Has Morocco’s Justice and Development Party sold Palestine for Western Sahara?

Hempel indicated that Morocco also receives Israeli assistance in the field of digital surveillance, noting that Amnesty International reported that, in 2017, Morocco began using spyware from the Israeli company NSO Group to track and collect information on journalists and human rights activists.

He also divulged that Morocco had also acquired the drone that Israel used to attack the Gaza Strip. The expert explained that Israel often does not publish official information on arms deals.

It is worth noting that Morocco is the fourth Arab country to have recently signed a normalisation agreement with Israel under US auspices, after the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Sudan.

Last December, the two countries signed four bilateral agreements focusing on direct flights, water management, visa waivers for citizens of both countries and encouraging investment and trade between the two countries.

Morocco has the largest Jewish community in North Africa (around 3,000), while approximately 700,000 Jews of Moroccan origin live in Israel.