Israel refuses to stop selling arms to Myanmar

Israel refuses to stop selling arms to Myanmar
Israeli lawyers respond in the High Court to a petition demanding an end to arms sales to Myanmar by arguing that the court has no standing in diplomatic affairs.
2 min read
27 September, 2017
There has been incontrovertible evidence of regime war crimes against the country's Rohingya minority [AFP]
Israel will not stop selling weapons to Myanmar despite evidence of war crimes perpetrated by its military against the country's Muslim Rohingya minority, local media reported on Tuesday.

Tel Aviv responded on Monday to a petition in the High Court of Justice from rights activists calling for an immediate halt to arms sales to Myanmar in light of the systematic killing, rape and expulsion of some 480,000 of the country's Muslim minority.

The court hearing was a closed-door session, during which lawyers representing the state highlighted Israel's special relations with Myanmar.

The state, represented by Shosh Shmueli, said the court has no standing in diplomatic matters and must not interfere in Israel's foreign affairs, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

The petitioners' lawyer Eitay Mack argued that both the EU and the US had placed a trade embargo on Myanmar in light of the recent atrocities, but Israel remains to be the only "Western state" supplying weapons to the military junta.

Israel has kept quiet over its arms trade with Myanmar, but leaders of the junta boast of special ties with Tel Aviv over social media.

In September 2015, General Min Aung Hlaing, the commander of Myanmar's military visited Israel and met with the Chief of Staff Lutienent General Gadi Eisenkot, according to Mack’s notes.

During his trip, Hlaing declared on his Facebook page that he had visited a number of arms factories and made an order for patrol boats.

The petition also stated that the head of Israeli’s defence ministry’s international defence cooperation directorate, Brigadier General Michel Ben Baruch, met with head of Myanmar’s military during a visit to the country in 2016.

Last year, Israeli defence company TAR Ideal Concept published pictures on its website of arms training carried out with Myanmar’s forces.

The ruling is expected on Wednesday, but the High Court issued a gag order on the official decision.