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Israel is trying to hide its arms sales to Duterte's Philippines

Israel continues to sell arms to the world’s most oppressive regimes, but the courts won’t let the media cover the story.

By Itamar Baz

The Philippine Coast Guard presenting a shipment of 70 Israeli-made machine guns at the PCG National Headquarters Port Area on May 7, 2018. (Courtesy of Philippines Coast Guard)

The Philippine Coast Guard presenting a shipment of 70 Israeli-made machine guns at the PCG National Headquarters Port Area on May 7, 2018. (Courtesy of Philippines Coast Guard)

An Israeli court imposed a media blackout on hearings held in September regarding a state sale of weapons to the Philippine regime. The petitioners to halt the sale argued that Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine president, was credibly accused of having committed mass atrocities, as well as grave violations of human rights and of international law.

While a significant portion of the evidence supporting the petition against the sale was already in the public domain, Judge Gilia Ravid of the Tel Aviv District Court ruled in favor of the state’s request to exclude media coverage. Her decision was based partly on the standard concerns regarding state security and foreign policy, but more significantly, the judge accepted the state’s argument that because they were precluded from presenting evidence derived from classified material, the media would only cover the arguments presented by the plaintiff, which would result in the public receiving a distorted version of the case.

Attorney Eitay Mack submitted and argued for the petition, which was signed by 56 Israeli human rights activists. Named on the petition are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, and the Director of Security Exports at the Ministry of Defense.

“The current president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, is a mass murderer who condones rape, shooting women in the gentials, and blowing up schools for indigenous minorities,” wrote the petitioners. “Since Duterte took office in June 2016, after campaigning on ‘the war against drugs,’ Philippine police have executed approximately 12,000 people, according to a January 2018 report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW). Most of the executions are carried out by masked special forces officers who enter slum neighborhoods, arrest men and boys, and shoot them on the spot.” HRW reports that the number of executions has continued to rise since it published its report last year.



The petition notes: “Beyond the question of the legality of exporting Israeli weapons to the Philippines, there are the matters of ethics and intelligence. State security forces armed with Israeli weapons are carrying out mass executions of civilians living in impoverished slums, and this is unacceptable.”

Since Duterte took office, added the petitioners, he has acquired significant quantities of Israeli weapons. These include Tavor, Galil, and Gilboa rifles; Negev automatic weapons; and Masada pistols.

The petition notes that when Duterte met with President Rivlin during his official visit to Israel last year, the Philippine president said that he had instructed the heads of his security services to purchase weapons exclusively from Israel. Unlike the United States, Germany and China, explained Duterte, the State of Israel does not impose any limitations on the sales. A photograph published that same year by the Associated Press shows Duterte holding an Israeli Galil rifle, which was presented to him at a military ceremony in the Philippines.

The state, represented by Attorney Yossi Zadok of the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office, requested that the hearing be held entirely in camera “in order to prevent any damage to state security and foreign relations.”

Attorney Mack, representing the petitioners, responded that all the information dealing with weapons sales to the Philippines is in the public domain. He added: “It is regrettable that the respondents are of the opinion that a mere court hearing might damage their image, and not the sale of weapons for the purpose of committing crimes against humanity and mass murder in the Philippines.”

Israelis protest against President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte upon his arrival for a meeting with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin outside the president's residence in Jerusalem (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israelis protest against President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte upon his arrival for a meeting with Israeli president Reuven Rivlin outside the president’s residence in Jerusalem (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Mack added that the information in the petition had already been made public on social media and news outlets. It had been sent to Philippine embassies around the world, to the U.N., and to a long list of human rights organizations. “Therefore, imposing a gag order on the petitioners’ oral repetition of information that has already been widely published would constitute a closing of the barn door long after the horses had bolted.”

Mack suggested that if the state were interested in presenting evidence based on classified information, the judge could hear it in chambers. But the state refused to compromise.

After hearing arguments from both sides on Sept. 19, Judge Ravid accepted the state’s argument, ruling that all further proceedings would be held in camera. In an opinion that mirrored the state’s arguments, she wrote that Attorney Mack’s suggestion, that any state’s evidence based on classified information be presented in chambers, was “problematic,” because the media might quote information given in open court “out of context,” thus giving an incorrect impression.

The Israeli media tends not to report on any aspect of weapons sales to repressive regimes. Nor has it challenged the policy of keeping the Ministry of Defense’s activities shrouded in secrecy.

This article was first published in Hebrew by the Seventh Eye. Read it here.

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    1. Justin

      Duterte is not a mass murderer. These crazy people protesting against him are ignorant and didn’t know what really was the real situation of the country before he stepped into the presidency. World open your eyes… this man is the true hero of the country… ask the people there.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Arsenio Ramirez

      82% of Filipinos supports our beloved President. Complaints emanates from few who were influenced with ill motivated countries who want to curtail our independence. We believe CHR is politicized.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Alner

      There you go again. False accusation of this so called human right watch is being used by idiots!

      Reply to Comment
    4. Edgar

      All of your accusations are baseless. And you idiots belonged to the “yellow” bleeding hearts in the Philippines. If Pres. Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs ruined your career, it’s better, because you idiots are associated with Reds & Yellows who keep trying to bring down the Gov’t.for your own nasty interest!!!😡😡😡😡

      Reply to Comment
    5. Mike

      Fake news is real. Philippines is the most oppresive regime? Hahahahahahahhaha. What drugs you are taking guys? Hahahahahaha.

      Reply to Comment
    6. medel d manalo

      its all hearsay and all the reports are lie we love our president now he changed the atmosphere in our country since president Marcos now we have change a lot human rights are bad people they turn white to red shame on you human rights

      Reply to Comment
    7. Chris Carvajal

      To Itamar Baz,

      I’m a Filipino and I knew my our President.

      Whats makes you so righteous to write and report those insane accusation about the
      Philippine President? have you been in my country? Just for you to earn for a living you are scattering a fake news???

      I would donate only if your going to behave yourself and never write a story that you never witnessed it by yourself.

      Shame on you !!!

      Disappointingly yours – Chris

      Reply to Comment
    8. Benildz

      Visit Philippines and ask all the filipino people what they think about President Duterte.never write a news that you never seen.👊👊👊👊👊

      Reply to Comment
    9. Erlinda Sy

      This is the first time we have a decent President who had conviction and discipline and sound principle.He works very hard. In a very short time he already achieved 20 years of labour compared to other Presidents. God bless him.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Filipino people

      Full of lies and speculations. Go to Philippines first before you say that. Full of fake news. Majority of Filipinoes are happy and feel safe now compare to the past.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Edgardo

      Before Duterte reigns there is a lot of rape,robbery,murders caused by drug addicts;now it is minimize due to most them were arrested and go to jail.

      Reply to Comment
    12. jing thoreau

      12000 killings!!! really! fabricated and stupid news. how come until now, president duterte is getting high percentage in social weather survey because we trust him unlike past presidents of this country. come visit philippines. you’ll see the difference!

      Reply to Comment
    13. Ramil Dumenden

      Our country, the Philippines, is not a regime nor a war zone. Investigate justly before you publish erroneous facts.

      Reply to Comment
    14. william lopez

      Mr. Duterte is well loved by many Filipinos. He is a truly great leader. He loves his country much that is why he is continuously doing his best to fix the all the problems in our country that have been neglected by previous administrations. Sorry to say but i fully disagree of your negative potrayal to our President. Please visit our country so that you will find the truth and be enlightened.

      Reply to Comment
    15. hildah appelbom

      Independent journalists? These are leftists scumbags trying to destroy from within .

      Reply to Comment
    16. Go duterte

      This is a stupid claim without bases, what an arrogant claim proclaiming to the world without even a single evidence to support these shit.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Oscar

      Duterte, the best Philippine President in my opinion.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Bernard

      The headline says, “. . . . world’s most oppressive regimes. . .” Look who’se talking! Leave your comfort zone, you keyboard warriors. Go to the Philippines so that you may know the real situation for an accurate investigative journalism. Otherwise, all your 7 eyes are blind. I wonder if Google search engine is able to filter out what is accurate and what is fake.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Ben

      We would appear to have here an impressive and almost comical response from either the Philippine version of the Russian Internet Research Agency aka Russian Troll Farm, or just an enthusiastic bunch of independent freelancers.

      To my mind, it supports the case made by Itamar Baz–both about the arms peddling issue itself and the larger issue of a corrupted and cowed Israeli court system serving as a willing handmaiden to the defense-industrial-occupation complex and the right wing government (the same right wing that whines about so-called “leftist” judges). If Israel is not aware of the legally and morally illicit nature of its operations here, then why all the shame-faced secrecy and sneaking about in the night and the “security” ruses–ruses so obviously refuted by Baz’s simply noting that the Court refused to hear the matter in chambers.

      This sneaking about and complicity of the courts in playing the “security” card in this single issue here is the massive occupation machine in microcosm.

      And it’s also a form of East German State-style Orwellianism. Bringing us full circle to those troll farms.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Janet Fagyan

      Fake news!!!

      Reply to Comment
    21. Marissa

      Fake and unfounded accusations…to the author of this article, I pity you because you and your govt officials believe the perpetual lies of the Liberals who lost all support from 95% of Filipinos. The lying Liberal Party was flushed out the toilet last election. No right-minded Filipino around the world would believe the crap that you naive foreign aliens swallow happily. Enjoy the crap!!

      Reply to Comment
    22. Eric

      He is not a mass murderer what he is doing is for the good of Filipino people don’t worry we know what’s going on here..what we want from you is to make china leave the west Philippine sea Island that is inside the eez of the Philippines now that is the true story not a political fabricated

      Reply to Comment
    23. borge

      rediculous article

      Reply to Comment
    24. Jose

      Handy work of the yellows who cannot wait for their turn

      Reply to Comment
    25. Ric

      @Itamar Baz, clearly you do not have the slightest clue on what you are talking about. You are not capable of writing a decent news article but I can say you’re good at writing fiction and lies spun by your masters, the yellow liberals. Duterte is the most well-loved president the world has ever seen at 82 to 95% approval rating (who can beat that?). His duty to dismantle the apparatus that are ailing the country neglected by previous administrations is not an easy task but due to his political will and acumen he is able to pull through. His foreign policy is his legacy to the world — “Friends to all, enemy to none.” If only all the leaders of the world would adapt his foreign policy then our world will be a better place to live in and the future will always look bright.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Ben

      This avalanche of machine-like “fake news” accusation recitations are really creepy. Really, you Philippine visitors/bots bombarding this site with scantly varying versions of the same abusive, threatening message are a creepy reminder of the whole right wing post-truth “fake news” manipulation problem in the internet age.

      For an article on the problem inside Israel, see:

      The Terrible Danger Stalking Israel – and Why Israelis Can’t Fight It
      ‘Post-truth’ disinformation and incitement against minorities, journalists and political rivals: They’re not exclusive to Israel, but Israeli Jews are particularly susceptible. This is why – and how that vulnerability could turn violent
      Edan Ring
      Oct 02, 2019

      Reply to Comment
    27. Peter

      Lies Lies Lies! Come to the Philippines and see for yourself! It has never been this progressive and peaceful. The people here love President Duterte. All the news the media is spreading are distorted facts to cater their liberal owners. Why not leave us alone so we can make our country greater with President Duterte leading the way?!

      Reply to Comment
    28. Pitbulldog

      So what is your problem there? To tell you also, Israel is helping train the Philippine special forces to fight these Muslim extremists. It was like that since the Marcos years. Our military deserve the best weapons like any other armed forces. This is a non issue.

      Reply to Comment
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