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At least 20 Israeli arms dealers have been arrested by Israel’s secret police over several months, in what is now being revealed as one of Israel’s biggest arms-industry scandals in history.
The story is under a gag-order in Israel, and only a few scant facts have been printed by Israeli newspapers. Even the destination country for the arms remains unnamed.
Even so, there have been enough details coming out for the Israeli public to pick up the pieces and foreign platforms to publish what everyone already knew: suicide drones appear to have been developed in Israel to be sold to China.
Richard Silverstein, a Middle East Eye contributor, was one of the first to name Beijing in his blog, in a post published on 11 February. He noted that this was not the country’s first scandal involving the sale of attack drones, and it came as no surprise considering the lack of oversight by the Israeli defence ministry.
“There have been numerous similar problematic sales to China in the past, many of which have angered the US. Israel plays a dangerous game of both cultivating trade with China while trying to maintain the close relationship with the US,” Silverstein told MEE.
“In this case, the aerospace engineer who coordinated the ring of military technology thieves may have been acting for his own enrichment, but he also created a potentially damaging scandal just as the US changes administrations, welcoming a president who is far more reluctant to look the other way regarding Israel stepping over the line than his predecessor.”
Antony Loewenstein, an independent journalist, filmmaker and author, said that the recent scandal is just the latest example of Israel’s defence sector going rogue.
“Israel has a largely unregulated defence industry, allowing the Israeli government and its private companies to sell weapons, surveillance equipment and hi-tech to some of the most despotic regimes in the world from Uganda to the Philippines,” he told MEE.
“It’s time for the Israeli state to be held accountable for this decades-long practice.”
Despite the lack of regulations on the Israeli arms industry,