Assault rifles manufactured in Israel were used by a South Sudanese government-supplied ethnic militia that allegedly massacred Nuer civilians in Juba at the start of South Sudan’s civil war in December 2013, according to a leaked UN panel report.
Israeli weapons have also been seen in use in front-line areas later in the war.
The report by a UN panel that monitors the conflict in South Sudan for the Security Council blames President Salva Kiir and a “narrow circle of senior individuals in the military and security services” for “waging an aggressive war involving the targeting of civilians and extensive destruction of communities.”
The report states that Israeli ACE rifles that came into the hands of the National Security Service, a security organ overseen by Kiir, were used in massacres in December 2013, which the African Union Commission of Inquiry says were perpetrated “pursuant to or in furtherance of a State policy.”
According to the report, National Security Service Director General Akol Kur oversaw the arming of the ‘Mathiang Anyoor’ ethnic militia that was mobilized prior to the start of the war, providing to them the Israeli weapons. However, the report does not say whether the ACE rifles were obtained directly from Israel or via South Sudan’s ally Uganda.
“In 2013, Kur bypassed Oyay Deng Ajak, then the minister for National Security, and went straight to the presidency to facilitate the acquisition of the Israeli ACE rifles cited in the Panel’s interim report (S/2015/656). (These ACE rifles were handed out to members of theMathiang Anyoor from the Presidential Palace as they targeted Nuer in Juba in December 2013),” reads the report, a copy of which was seen by Radio Tamazuj.
Later in the war, a different kind of Israeli-manufactured rifle was observed in Upper Nile State, a front-line area where heavy fighting and atrocities have also taken place.
“The Panel has in addition identified Israeli Micro Galil rifles in Upper Nile state, which were sold by the manufacturer to the Uganda Ministry of Defense in 2007. The Panel has confirmed, based on multiple, independent sources, that following the outbreak of the fighting, these weapons were transferred to NSS in 2014,” reads the UN report.
According to the government of Israel, Uganda did not request permission for this transfer. Micro Galils and IWI ACE rifles are widespread in South Sudan, where they have become known as Galaxies, especially in Upper Nile state.”
The Ugandan government has not replied to a letter from the UN panel requesting information on these weapons sales or transfers to South Sudan.
The UN panel comprises five members: regional affairs expert Payton Knopf, humanitarian affairs expert Anna Oosterlinck, arms expert Lucas van de Vondervoort, finance experts Andrews Atta-Asamoah, and armed groups expert Klem Ryan.
The panel also cited Ukraine as a country that has exported weapons to South Sudan, including at least 830 light machine guns and 62 heavy machine guns exported in 2014.
Photo: Galil ACE assault rifle (Wikipedia/Creative Commons)