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South Africa Cancelled Arms Contracts With Israel in 2000

Sam Sole
Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg)
July 26, 2002


South Africa terminated existing arms contracts with Israel in 2000, says Minister of Education Kader Asmal.

The disclosure came in response to questions from the Mail & Guardian about the possible ongoing role of South African companies in maintaining weapons systems used by Israel in air attacks on the Palestinian occupied territories.

There has been general condemnation of Israel this week following an incident in which an Israeli F-16 warplane dropped a one-tonne laser-guided bomb into a crowded neighbourhood of Gaza City, killing 16 Palestinians, including a top militant, and wounding 160.

South Africa and Israel have in the past collaborated extensively on the development of missile and guidance technology, prompting this week's questions to Asmal.

The minister, who is the chairperson of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), did not explain why the government had waited two years before making public its tough stance on exports to Israel.

In 1999 South Africa exported about R8-million worth of combat system support equipment to Israel.

Last year ANC Western Cape leader Max Ozinsky told a public meeting that South Africa was still servicing existing contracts with Israel and it is understood that at least one Cabinet member was under the same impression.

Asmal's disclosure coincided with a Cabinet decision on Wednesday to approve the release of official arms export figures for 2000 and last year. The NCACC is expected to release the figures this week.