South Sudan army using Israeli weapons in civil war, UN says

Security Council report on conflict notes photographs showing South Sudanese soldiers using Israeli-produced assault rifles

South Sudanese government forces ride on a vehicle, January 12, 2014. (AP/Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin, File)
South Sudanese government forces ride on a vehicle, January 12, 2014. (AP/Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin, File)

The South Sudanese army is using Israeli weapons to fight its civil war, according to a United Nations report.

A UN Security Council report about the conflict said that photographs showed South Sudanese officers and soldiers using the Ace, an advanced version of the Galil assault rifle, the Haaretz daily reported Wednesday. The rifle is produced by Israel Weapon Industries.

The Defense Ministry, which oversees Israel’s sprawling defense industry, has refused to comment on weapons sales with any particular country.

The civil war in South Sudan has gone on for 18 months amid allegations of human rights violations, including the use of child soldiers. According to the report, all branches of South Sudan’s security forces are using the Ace, in its battle against local rebels.

Both sides have been accused of human rights violations, in the two-year war, in documented claims of ethnic cleansing, systemic rape, recruitment of child soldiers and more.

Last week, Eitay Mack, an Israeli attorney leading the charge against arms sales to the nascent African nation, told The Times of Israel that the Jewish state has been providing South Sudan with weapons, ammunition and training.

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg has been working with Mack to press the Defense Ministry for answers, while also trying to push forward legislation stymieing the alleged arms deals.

Some, however, have maintain that the weapons, training and equipment are not bound for South Sudan’s civil war, but rather for its ongoing conflict with Sudan — a shared enemy with Israel.

Data on arms sales to specific countries are kept secret, but overall sales to Africa increased dramatically in the years following South Sudan’s formation.

In 2009 Israel sold just $71 million worth of weapons to the continent. In 2013, that number more than tripled to $223 million, and it reached $318 million in 2014.

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