Spain sold weapons to Israel in the middle of the war in Gaza despite announcing the suspension of exports

Spain has continued exporting weapons material to Israel during the brutal war in which the Jewish State has devastated the Gaza Strip, has killed nearly 28,000 people –mostly children and women– and has injured more than 60,000.

Last November, an arms company located in Palencia exported ammunition to Israel worth 987,000 eurosaccording to official data from the foreign trade portal Comex, indicates an investigation by the Delàs Center of Peace Studies carried out by researcher Alejandro Pozo.

The material sold and shipped corresponds to the category of “bombs, grenades, torpedoes, mines, missiles, cartridges and other ammunition and projectiles, and their parts, including slugs, shot and wads for cartridges.” That is, it would be lethal ammunition whose sale has been authorized by the Spanish Government, despite the fact that the Executive had announced that suspended arms exports to Israel since the beginning of the Israeli response to the surprise attacks by Palestinian militias on October 7, in which more than 1,200 Israeli civilians and military personnel were killed and around 250 were taken hostage.

Since October 7, there have been no operations to export Spanish weapons to Israel“said the Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares, in the Congress of Deputies last December. He was responding to an intervention by EH Bildu in which he demanded an embargo on the sale of weapons to Israel in the face of the continued indiscriminate bombings against civilians that continue to be perpetrated in Gaza.

“Don’t worry, that’s not going to happen,” Albares insisted in reference to the sale of military material. Albares has repeated the same thing on several subsequent occasions, both in parliament and in various interviews in the media. “Since October 7, 2023, there has been no arms sales operation to Israel,” he repeated on Cadena Ser at the end of January.

Spain leads the European export of Israel

However, the reality shown by the official figures themselves is very contrary. “The Comex portal shows that in November 2023 the Spanish State was the country in the European Union that exported the most material to Israel, representing 52% of the total exports of the European Union“, says the Delàs Center.

“This export necessarily had the authorization of the Government Spanish, a license that could and should have been revoked as established by the Spanish defense material trade control regulation, if the suspension of arms sales were real and effective,” criticizes the organization.

The Government assures that it is not lethal material

As explained to Public sources of the Secretary of State for Commerce, this export “corresponds to licenses authorized prior to October 7“. It is, always according to Commerce, “inert material (no explosive) for internal tests or demonstrations, in no case for final use, nor capable of being used in the conflict”.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs refers to the explanations from Commerce and insists that any authorization approved was prior to the start of the current conflict. In a brief statement, the Albares department assures that “since October 7, 2023, no arms sales operations to Israel have been authorized.”

The Secretary of State for Commerce adds that “since 2001, the definitive export to Israel of any weaponry or equipment considered lethal has not been authorized,” in the same way that “nor have exports of equipment likely to be used as riot control material by of the Armed Forces” of Israel.

The Government reiterates that “therefore, the authorization of any export of equipment, weapons, or lethal material that could be used in the current conflict is not contemplated.”

Official Secrets Law

According to Pozo, a researcher at the Delàs Center, it is impossible to verify that these authorizations are prior to October 7. The decision is debated in the Interministerial Board of Defense and Dual Use (JIMMDU), in which representatives of the Ministries of Economy and Finance, Defense, Interior, Presidency and Foreign Affairs participate. Their deliberations are not public and they are protected by the Official Secrets Act, so they cannot even be obtained by parliamentary request.

Pozo emphasizes that it is a “political and not technical or legal interpretation“Commerce’s statement that it is not lethal material. According to the researcher, parts are being sold for the manufacture of weapons “even though Spain does not sell explosives.” For Pozo it is clear that “Minister Albares has lied in parliament.” and points out that these exports are proof that there is no express prohibition on the sale of military material to Israel, as is being claimed. “If there were an embargo or a real prohibition, the exporting company could be sanctioned and that operation would not have been carried out or would have been revoked,” he adds.

Both the Delás Center and Amnesty International recall that the Government’s own public information shows that “the material authorized and/or exported to Israel in the last decade does include lethal material, such as ammunition, light weapons, fire direction or training systems. of images, likely to be used in the conflict”.

Imports are maintained

Furthermore, according to the same investigation, not only the authorization of exports has continued, but also imports. Since October 7, the Spanish Government “has not stopped buying weapons and security products from Israel,” the investigation highlights. Specific, Spain acquired 705 million euros in products of the Israeli company Elbit Systemswhich sells and advertises its products under the slogan “combat tested“, highlights the Center Delàs.

All the material sent to Israel in the latest exports comes from Palencia, where the Nammo Palencia company, dedicated to the manufacture of ammunition, is located.

Spain has already authorized the sale of 44 million euros in military material to Israel during the six months prior to the war in Gaza, according to Amnesty International. The organization positively valued the temporary suspension of exports announced by the Government, although it already warned that it was not possible to know if operations between the summer and the start of the war in Gaza had continued and if authorized exports were going to be carried out. previously.

Now it is known that not only have they been completed, but that contracts have continued to be analyzed and approved while more and more voices are calling for a total arms embargo on Israel, in the crosshairs of the International Court of Justice due to the risk of genocide. against the Palestinian people.

In statements to Public, Alberto Estévez, spokesperson on weapons at Amnesty International Spain, calls for a total cessation of the sale of any weapons to Israel and for the Government to “extend the suspension to licenses authorized before October 7, 2023.” The organization also requests more transparency about these operations and that “the type of product, use and end user of the exported ammunition be made public in November 2023.”

Amnesty International has been demanding for years that the temporary suspension of Spanish arms transfers to Israel be made permanent, something that would be “justified” by the “atrocities committed” by the Jewish State.

Borrell calls for an end to arms sales to Israel

These exports are known on the same day that the high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said that the death toll in the Gaza war is “very high” and called for stopping arms supplies to Israel. In fact, he has gone so far as to assure that “the EU does not give weapons to Israel”, but that “others do it”.

The head of European diplomacy pointed out that more and more voices are being raised around the world warning that the actions of the Israeli Army in the Gaza Strip are “disproportionate” and “excessive”, including those of the president of the United States, Joe Bidenwhose country is Israel’s main ally and the largest supplier of weapons to the Jewish State.

“My question is, beyond words, what else do you think needs to be done? If you think the number of deaths is very high, do you have any chance to reduce it?” Borrell said in statements to the press upon his arrival. to the meeting that the European Union Cooperation Ministers are holding this Monday in Brussels.

They request the appearance of Albares and Robles

The Delàs Center and the Solidarity Network against the Occupation of Palestine (RESCOP) insist on the campaign to End the Arms Trade with Israel. They demand an urgent appearance of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the head of Defense, Margarita Robles, to “explain the repeated lies about arms sales to Israel and the evident non-compliance with the Spanish weapons law”.

They demand “absolute transparency on all arms transfers to Israel”, a State that is being investigated for possible genocide by the Interactional Court of Justice, and an end to the sale of arms “so as not to be complicit in the genocide in the Gaza Strip or with the occupation and apartheid in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Palestine of 1948”, in addition to the “rupture of relations with the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime”.

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