Hadash MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List) 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. MK Cassif did this towards a district court hearing to be held in mid-February to stop the export of arms to Uganda. In his letter, Cassif wrote, “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. In addition, police went on to use extreme violence in quelling opposition demonstrations during Uganda’s last elections. To date, the international community knows of dozens of killed, 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.
According to the Al-Monitor website, a report issued by an expert committee of the United Nations Security Council focused on the involvement of Israeli arms manufacturers in the fighting in South Sudan. It determined that in 2014, Uganda transferred Israeli guns that it obtained in a 2007 arms deal to the government of South Sudan. The UN committee also stated its belief that the guns were part of a larger stockpile of weapons that was relayed to South Sudan via Uganda.
In 2013, VICE magazine reported that Israel is supplying Uganda with military support and training, arms and drones, all in exchange for the latter’s agreement to accept asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan once they are deported from Israel. In 2017, the press was allowed to reveal that Uganda is the third country to accept African asylum seekers forcibly deported from Israel. Reports in the foreign press claim that the agreement with Uganda included various arms deals, but Israel refused to release the details.
In October 2020, the Knesset rejected a preliminary reading of proposed legislation supported by Hadash MKs that would have limited the export of arms to nations involved in severe human rights violations. A statement signed by 38 rabbis in support of the initiative preceded the vote. In their statement the rabbis wrote, “Jewish law forbids the sale of arms to non-Jews who are suspected of misusing the weapons and causing harm to many, and any such sale requires an in-depth and thorough investigation to ensure that it conforms to Jewish law.”