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Israel’s defense exports reach record $13B in 2023 amid Gaza war

Israel's defense exports reach record $13B in 2023 amid Gaza war An Israeli soldier looks on from a Merkava tank while operating in a location given as Gaza December 7, 2023. (Reuters)
By Anadolu Agency
Jun 19, 2024 3:34 PM

Israeli’s defense exports reached $13 billion in 2023, a new record, even amid the widely condemned war on Gaza, according to official data released on Monday.

Missile and air defense systems accounted for 36% of the total, said the Israeli Defense Ministry, followed by radar and electronic warfare (11%), weapon stations and launchers (11%), manned aircraft and avionics (9%), ammunition and arms (8%), surveillance and electronics (5%), armored vehicles and troop carriers (5%), intelligence and cyber systems (4%), unmanned aerial vehicles (4%), communication systems (4%), satellites and space systems (2%), and naval systems (1%).

Nearly half of the exports went to the Asia-Pacific region with 48%, followed by Europe with 35%, North America with 9%, Latin America with 4%, the Abraham Accord countries (the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain) with 3%, and Africa with 1%.

As for the export deals’ financial value, 40% of the contracts were valued at over $100 million, 17% at $50-100 million, 23% up to $50 million, and 20% up to $10 million, it said.

The Defense Ministry’s Eyal Zamir and Yair Kulas, director of international defense cooperation, announced the record-breaking figure of $13.07 billion for defense exports in 2023.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said: “Israel continues to succeed in its international cooperation and industrial defense exports even during a year marked by the Gaza war.”

Flouting a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, Israel has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7, 2023 attack by Hamas.

More than 37,300 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, and more than 85,000 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Over eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in Rafah, where over a million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.

Israel’s recent use of new weapons in Gaza has raised significant concerns and condemnation worldwide since October 7. One of the standout additions to its military arsenal is the Barak tank. Described as the “fifth iteration” of the Merkava tank, the Barak incorporates advanced artificial intelligence. The Merkava is renowned as one of the most advanced tank defense systems globally, and the Barak tank enhances this reputation with its ability to provide a clear view of the surroundings even with its hatches closed. This capability is facilitated by a comprehensive array of sensors that create an augmented reality view of the outside environment. After a five-year development phase, the new tanks were delivered to the 52nd Battalion of the 401st Armored Brigade in early September 2023. Additionally, the Barak tank features the “Trophy active protection system,” which creates a 360-degree protective shield around the tank, instantly detecting and neutralizing any threats by firing at approaching missiles.

Another significant addition to Israel’s military technology is the Spark UAV. This unmanned aerial vehicle was developed as part of the Israeli Air Force’s Storm Clouds program, which focuses on intelligence-gathering and combat support. The Spark UAV, produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Aeronautics Group, aims to significantly enhance the operational capabilities of units based on the data it collects. However, the Israeli army has not released detailed information about its specific functionalities.

The Spike FireFly loitering munition is another notable development. Weighing only 3 kilograms, this kamikaze UAV is equipped with a warhead and is used beyond the line of sight, allowing it to fly over enemy positions that ground troops cannot see. Developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Aeronautics Group, the Spike FireFly can hover over an area for up to 30 minutes, providing information to units up to 1.5 kilometers away. Controlled via a tablet, the Spike FireFly can gather information, identify targets, and either return to base or strike the target if equipped with a 350-gram multi-purpose fragmentation warhead.

Iron Sting is a precision-guided mortar munition developed by Elbit Systems, another key player in Israel’s defense industry. First used by the Israeli army in Gaza in October 2023, Iron Sting is a 120mm laser and GPS-guided mortar capable of operating in all battlefield scenarios. It has a range of 1-12 kilometers depending on the mortar tube and is designed to penetrate double-layer concrete with explosive and fragmentation effects.

Australian freelance journalist and author Antony Loewenstein, who wrote “The Palestine Laboratory,” has criticized Israel’s use of these technologies. Loewenstein argues that Israel employs the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the siege of Gaza to test and refine its techniques of repression and surveillance. These technologies, including facial recognition, spyware, and drones, are subsequently sold to other countries, both democratic and dictatorial, to suppress dissent. Despite the significant intelligence failure on October 7, Loewenstein believes that Israel’s weapons industry will ultimately benefit from the conflict.

Last Updated:  Jun 20, 2024 10:17 PM