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Israel supported Burma's military against Rohingya Muslims in exchange for international recognition 

Rohingya laborers have lunch during their break as they work at a brick production workplace in a village on December 23, 2021, in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar [Aung Naing Soe/Anadolu Agency]
Rohingya laborers have lunch during their break as they work at a brick production workplace in a village on December 23, 2021, in Sittwe, Rakhine State, Myanmar [Aung Naing Soe/Anadolu Agency]

Recently declassified Israeli Foreign Ministry documents reveal deep Israeli military ties with Burma, now known as Myanmar, and its significant role in the brutal massacre against the Rohingya Muslims.

According to a report published yesterday by Haaretz, the 25,000 pages of documents detail how the Israeli regime armed and trained the Burmese army, from the 1950s until the beginning of the 1980s.

Since the end of British rule in Myanmar in 1948, different parts of the country have been rocked by relentless civil war.

Despite Israeli authorities being well aware of the situation, Israel perceived the deadly civil war in Burma as a "golden opportunity" for increasing its arms sales to Burma.

A cable sent to Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, from the Foreign Ministry in September 1952 stated that the civil war in Burma had claimed 30,000 victims to date and that "55 per cent of the state budget is earmarked to this day for defence purposes."

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However, the documents reveal that one of the main aims of Israel was to win Burmese support in international forums, in exchange for its arms support, reported Haaretz.

"It was of no interest to successive Israeli regimes that the military aid was not intended for purposes of defence against external enemies, but was used to make war against the country's inhabitants," noted the report, adding that no Israeli representative has ever voiced objection to arms sales to Myanmar in that period.

In March 1954, Foreign Ministry Director-General, Walter Eytan, wrote to IDF Chief of Staff, Moshe Dayan: "Burma is Israel's most faithful friend in Asia, and the ties between the Israeli army and the Burmese army could be extremely vital, at least diplomatically."

He added: "I am bound to say that, with the current state of the relations between Israel and Burma, it is not in fact possible to refuse the request of the Burmese Army."

The agreement between the two regimes consisted of 30 fighter aircraft, hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition, 1,500 napalm bombs, 30,000 rifle barrels, thousands of mortar shells and much more military equipment, from scouts' tents to parachuting gear.

In addition, dozens of Israeli experts were dispatched to Burma on training missions, and Burmese army officers came to Israel for comprehensive instruction on IDF bases. In cooperation with the Burmese army, Israel also established shipping, agricultural, tourism and construction companies there.

Moreover, the Burmese were inspired to follow in Israel's footsteps of land invasion and grabbing and had, therefore, also set up military bases in regions inhabited by ethnic minorities.

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"We are interested in establishing a connection between our Mossad and the Burmese Mossad," Kalman Anner, then the Director of the Asia Desk wrote in January 1982, after the Israeli regime saw the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people as an opportunity.

Since 25 August, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar's State forces, while more than 34,000 thrown into fires; over 114,000 others beaten; as many as 18,000 women and girls raped and above 115,000 homes burned down, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

However, it was only after public criticism, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced, in July 2019, that Myanmar would no longer be able to send representatives to arms exhibitions in Israel.

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