Skip to main content

Activists petition against Israeli arms export to Uganda

Israeli human rights activists fear that the leadership of Uganda might use Israeli-made weapons in its efforts to stop and silence local opposition.

This is not the first time Israel’s arms exports have been a source of controversy within the country. At stake is the sale of arms to authoritarian leaders who then use these weapons to suppress their populations. On Jan. 25, Knesset member Ofer Cassif of the joint Arab-Jewish Hadash Party called on Defense Minister Benny Gantz to halt the sale of Israeli arms to a private militia, the Special Forces Command (SFC), associated with Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni. He did this as a lead-up to a district court hearing in mid-February to stop the export of arms to Uganda. In his letter, Cassif wrote that “war crimes and severe and methodical violations of human rights intended to allow Museveni to cling to the reins of power have been characteristic of Uganda for the past few years.

The SFC was founded in 2011 as Museveni’s extrajudicial private security detail, drawing its commanders from his own ethnic group. Before the recent election in that country this past January, Museveni declared ominously, “There is nobody who is above us in knowing how to handle guns.” The police went on to use extreme violence in quelling opposition demonstrations. To date, the international community knows of dozens of casualties, hundreds more injured and thousands of arrests. It is a reasonable assumption that the SFC, armed with Israeli Galil Ace, Tavor and Uzi rifles, could serve as a major tool in suppressing popular protests resulting from a questionable election.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.