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Israeli weapons fueling South Sudan civil war: Report

A South Sudanese government soldier wearing a wig holds a rocket propelled grenade launcher while standing in a trench in the city of Malakal on October 16, 2016. (Photo by AP)

Millions of dollars worth of Israeli weapons ended up in South Sudan, thus extending the duration of a deadly civil war there, the Jerusalem Post newspaper has reported. 

Israel has close ties with the South Sudan regime which is accused of using Israeli arms and surveillance equipment in the civil war, which has left close to 400,000 people dead since 2013.

Former head of the Israeli army's operations directorate Israel Ziv has been cited as one of the agents who used legal entities as a cover for the sale of millions of dollars worth of weapons to South Sudan.

His name was revealed after being sanctioned by the US Treasury Department on Friday for fueling the conflict in South Sudan where Washington has its own vested interests.

According to a Treasury statement, Ziv used an agricultural company that was nominally present in South Sudan to carry out agricultural and housing projects for the government.

The projects, however, were "a cover for the sale of approximately $150 million worth of weapons to the government, including rifles, grenade launchers and shoulder-fired rockets," the statement said. 

Israel Ziv, retired Israeli major general

Ziv was paid through South Sudan's oil industry and is said to have “maintained the loyalty of senior Government of South Sudan officials through bribery and promises of security support," it added.

Being in close collaboration with a major multinational oil firm, he also planned attacks by mercenaries on South Sudanese oil fields and infrastructure, in an effort to create a problem that only his company and affiliates could solve, the report said.  

Israel recognized South Sudan on July 10, 2011, a day after it seceded from Sudan. The youngest country in Africa has been embroiled in a civil war since December 2013 after a political disagreement between President Salva Kiir and the former vice president he had sacked, Riek Machar.

Back in 2016, an Israeli Channel 2 investigation implicated Ziv in the organization of public relations operations for President Kiir.

With the death toll estimated at 400,000, millions of people have also been displaced from their homes in the fighting.

Israel is said to be seeking to take advantage of the insurgency and Takfiri militancy gripping parts of Africa to sell advanced military equipment to conflict-ridden states such as South Sudan.

A 2016 UN report said that Israel’s Micro Galil automatic rifles are “present in larger numbers than before the outbreak of the conflict” in South Sudan.

The rifles sold to Uganda in 2007 were transferred to South Sudan in 2014, the report said, adding that Israeli ACE rifles were also used in the 2013 massacre of Nuer citizens in South Sudan's capital Juba.

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