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France is still selling weapons to Israel, claim investigative websites

March 28, 2024 at 1:18 pm

Israeli soldiers are deployed at Erez border with heavy weapons and military vehicles in Erez, Israel on February 29, 2024. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

France is still selling weapons to Israel, investigative websites Disclose and Marsactu have revealed. The issue has created a major crisis in France, with claims that the French company Eurolinks, based in Marseille, sold Israel M27 links, which are metal pieces used to attach rifle cartridges to machine gun ammunition belts.

According to a report by France 24 on Wednesday, the two sites confirmed that this ammunition “could have been used against civilians in the Gaza Strip.” They supported their report with photos of the links, which they said were taken on 23 October, weeks after the start of the ongoing Israeli military offensive against Palestinians in Gaza.

However, according to French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu, Eurolinks’ licence for exports to the Israeli company IMI Systems “only covers re-export to third countries” and is not for items to be used by the Israeli army.

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The revelation comes at a time when left-wingers are demanding that France should follow Canada’s example and stop all arms exports to Israel. Mathilde Panot MP, leader of the opposition France Unbowed (LFI) party, described the exports as a “massive scandal” and accused Lecornu of “lying” in a recent parliamentary hearing.

Addressing parliament’s defence committee last month, the minister said France’s arms policy for Israel was “irreproachable”, noting that recent shipments included items such as “ball bearings, glass, cooling systems” and sensors. He added at the time, “In general, these are arms planned to be re-exported from Israel to other customers.”

Lecornu said that he had instructed civil servants to be “even stricter” in examining exports to Israel since 7 October. He also noted that France did issue licences for parts for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system.

In this context, the French newspaper Le Monde quoted Jean-Luc Bonelli, the CEO of Eurolinks, as saying, “We do indeed export to Israel, which represents 5 to 7 per cent of our business depending on the year, and we deliver these links to IMI Systems, a subsidiary of the Elbit defence group, but these links are in no way used to assemble munitions intended for use by the Israeli armed forces.”

READ: Israel seeking new arms suppliers, amid increasing criticism from US