Israel’s Weapons Sales to Europe Double Amid Refugee Crisis
Overall, Israel signed contracts worth $5.7 billion in sales of weapons and military technology; Official data shows a drop in sales to African nations, Asia and Latin America, and a rise in sales to Europe and the U.S.
Apr 06, 2016 11:00 PM
Israel in 2015 signed contracts worth $5.7 billion in sales of weapons and military technology – an increase of about $100 million over the previous year, Defense Ministry figures published on Wednesday show.
Sales to Europe more than doubled since 2014, reaching $1.6 billion, compared to $724 million the previous year. Most of 2015’s deals included aircraft upgrades, ammunition and unmanned aircraft sales.
Ministry data showed a drop in sales to African nations, Asia and Latin America, and a rise in sales to Europe and the U.S., in comparison to 2014. The apparent reason is the refugee crisis in Europe and the rise of terrorism on the continent.
The Defense Ministry said 2015 was “another challenging year for security industries around the world” and saw the effects of falling oil prices and the fall of currency values. According to the ministry’s military aid branch, which seeks to increase Israeli weapons exports, the number of deals is expected to remain stable in the coming year.
“The military industries have succeeded, via a series of actions, joint work and determination all over the world, to restore stability to the Israeli military exports market,” branch head Brigadier-General (res.) Mishel Ben Baruch said.
After three years of consistent rises in weapons deals with African nations, 2015 saw a drop of almost 50% in new contracts signed for the sale of Israeli defense products to African countries.
The extent of deals with African nations stood at $163 million that year, compared to $318 million in 2014 and $223 million in 2013.
African nations represent a small portion of Israeli defense exports. Similarly to other years, most of the weapons were sold to Asia and the Pacific. But there was also a drop in defense sales to Asian countries in 2015. In 2014, contracts signed with Asia totaled close to $3 billion, compared to $2.3 billion in the past year.
The Defense Ministry doesn’t detail weapons deals signed with foreign agents or bodies, or their costs, nor does it provide details on the identities of who purchases Israeli weapons or technology. In the United States, however, official deals done via the site of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) are reported.
“There is an extreme lack of transparency in the data, especially which countries are purchasing,” Meretz lawmaker Tamar Zandberg told Haaretz. “And the data, time after time, conceal shady undemocratic and not peace loving countries – despotic regimes using the weapons and technology to control or otherwise operate against civilians.
“Each time we see that Israel is unfortunately on the wrong side of history in these matters, and the most current example is South Sudan. Israel is still apparently selling monitoring equipment and various control mechanisms being used against civilians,” she said.
According to Defense Ministry data, some 15 percent of deals signed in 2015 focused on improving aircraft or aerial systems and there’s a similar figure for the sales of ammunition and gun positions. Twelve percent of the deals have to do with radar sales, and 11 percent in sales of unmanned weapons.
The Defense Ministry takes pride that Israel is “among the leading 10 defense exporters in the world,” Brigadier-General Ben Baruch said.