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Israeli weapons used widely in South Sudan civil war: UN report

New UN report says Israeli assault rifle now used by most South Sudanese security personnel in 20-month-old conflict
South Sudanese SPLA soldiers are pictured in Pageri in Eastern Equatoria state on 20 August 2015 (AFP)

An Israeli assault rifle is fuelling violence in South Sudan, a panel of experts appointed by the UN Security Council said in a new report.

Local soldiers and senior officers are using the Ace, an upgraded version of the Galil assault rifle which was developed by the privatised small arms division of Israel’s oldest defence firm, the government-owned Israel Military Industries (IMI).

The report notes that Israeli-built weapons were given to the local national security service before South Sudan’s 20 month long civil war broke out, but are now used by most security personnel in the country including the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army.

Tens of thousands have been killed in the unrest, and more than two million people have been displaces, UN figures show.

Some of Israels biggest arms customers are Brazil, India and Mexico. While sales to African countries continue to rise, Israeli officials won’t say if they sell arms specifically to South Sudan, but the state has taken part in recent Israeli weapons expos, Haaretz reported.

The same rifle used in South Sudan reportedly went on sale earlier this year in the US, retailing at $1,749, according to The Fire Arm Blog

In March, Israel put IMI, valued at $600mn, up for sale and expects to close a deal by December, according to a report in Defense News.

The government has reportedly required that an Israeli partner with at least 10 percent equity be part of any consortium that puts up a bid for the company that will remain subject to Israeli law after the sale.

Classified programmes, including one focused on heavy rocket propulsion systems, will remain in government control in a new company called Tomer that will be managed by the Ministry of Defence.

Ori Yogev, the head of the Government Companies Authority (GCA), told Defence News that the government has subsidised IMI with $620mn over the past decade. 

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