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Japan’s Itochu drops Israel’s Elbit defense systems as Gaza war impact deepens

Companies with connections to Israeli defense firm Elbit Systems have been targeted by activist groups including Palestine Action, which is calling for those involved in the company’s supply chains to sever ties.
A THOR vertical takeoff and landing micro-unmanned aerial system, developed as military tactical mule platform and part of the "Legion-X" line of robotic and autonomous combat solutions produced by Elbit Systems, flies during a press demonstration at their headquarters in Ramat HaSharon, Israel, July 10, 2023.

Itochu Corp’s aviation arm will end its strategic cooperation with Israeli defense firm Elbit Systems by the end of the month amid the war in the Gaza Strip, the Japanese trading house’s chief financial officer said on Monday.

Itochu Aviation, Elbit Systems and Nippon Aircraft Supply signed a memorandum of understanding in March 2023, seven months before the Israel-Hamas war broke out. The agreement included the sharing of technology and manufacturing capabilities. Elbit produces military aircraft and helicopter systems as well as other defense systems, including for helicopters and unmanned aircraft.

Itochu CFO Tsuyoshi Hachimura said during an earnings call press conference that his company plans to end work with Elbit after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel last month to prevent genocidal acts against Palestinians and do more to help civilians through the crisis. 

"The partnership is based on a request from Japan's Defense Ministry for the purpose of importing defense equipment for the Self-Defense Forces necessary for Japan's security, and is not in any way related to the current conflict between Israel and Palestine," Hachimura said of the initial agreement.

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