Ukraine war and Gulf normalisation: Huge spike in countries buying arms from Israel

Ukraine war and Gulf normalisation: Huge spike in countries buying arms from Israel
Israel has seen a significant increase in arms exports, with Ukraine and the Gulf states among new customers for weapons.
2 min read
02 October, 2023
The Iron Dome is among the Israeli weapons sought by arms buyers [Getty]

Israel has increased the number of countries it sells weapons to by 25 percent, including cyber technology and drones.

Israel's defence ministry authorised "record-breaking" arms sales last year, according to Haaretz, with the war in Ukraine and normalisation deals with Arab states likely factors for the increase in military exports.

Ukraine is reportedly seeking to obtain the Iron Dome missile system from Israel.

Weapons makers in Israel seeking to export abroad must first get a marketing licence and then approval from the defence ministry's Export Control Agency.

Israel claims this filtering process allows it to factor in human rights concerns and whether the weapons could be used by police to suppress internal dissent.

When the number of countries approved by the defence ministry was cross-checked with The Economist Democracy Index, however, it showed that 59 were likely "authoritarian regimes" and another 36 classed as "hybrid regimes".

Only 24 countries in the list were deemed by the index as being "full democracies".

"Simple math shows that apart from the 'ammunition and armament' category, the State of Israel must have signed off on the marketing of military and dual-use technologies to 'full-fledged' dictatorial regimes," the Haaretz report stated.

The data, obtained after a freedom of information request, shows a 40 percent spike in drone sales over the past three years, from 40 countries to 56.

Ammunition sales also increased from 42 countries in 2020 to 61 in 2022, while intelligence and cyber transfers also shot up from 67 countries to 83 during this three-year period.

The Pegasus spyware, made by Israeli software maker NSO Group, has been allegedly used by authoritarian regimes across the world to snoop on pro-democracy and human rights activists.

Israel has also been accused of testing weapons, spyware and other military technology in its occupation and deadly raids in the West Bank and bombings of Gaza.