Why Don’t More Countries Take Action Against Israel?

While the Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation voiced support for South Africa’s case, it’s notable that it was South Africa that filed the case in the first place. Additionally, while many countries make a show of support for Palestinians, it’s largely business as usual with Israel.

Maybe no one talks louder than Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but oil still flows from Azerbaijan to Israel via Turkiye, and the Incirlik air base in Turkiye is still used by the US to deliver weapons to Israel. Persian Gulf states also refuse to use oil as leverage on Israel.

While the West is in complete support of Israel, elsewhere few countries have withdrawn diplomats or suspended economic ties with Israel.

How big of a role do Israeli sales of weapons and surveillance technology play in those decisions? Antony Loewenstein in his book “The Palestine Laboratory” makes a compelling case that it plays a big part. I wrote a review of  a month ago, largely focusing on the spread of surveillance and population control technology pioneered by Israel, which is used ​​in efforts to plunder assets or people – both abroad and domestically.

The increasing worldwide use of population control technology that Israel uses (and refines) on Palestinians is a warning sign for the future, but also helps explain why governments are still hesitant to oppose Israel. There are no doubt other factors at play, such as pressure from the US and other forces of coercion, and while Israel’s tech may have lost some of its luster on Oct. 7, as the Israel Defense Force’s supposedly state-of-the-art systems were unable to prevent Hamas’ attack, it’s still in demand because of what Loewenstein describes here about Cellebrite, the Israeli digital intelligence behemoth whose products include the Universal Forensic Extraction Device hacking tool:

A former Cellebrite employee, previously a member of the defense establishment, wrote anonymously in Haaretz that “I can say from personal experience that the company does nothing to prevent the abuse of its products by customers.” The reason repressive states want Israeli tech, whether from Cellebrite or NSO, is simple: China and other states make “inferior alternatives.”

The Case of Colombia

Israel’s spat with Bogota helps highlight why governments are reluctant to call Israel out for its crimes.

Israel sells to just about everyone who wants to buy. It sold to Chile during Pinochet despite the US-backed dictator torturing and murdering Jews. It sells to China, Russia, the US, the EU. It sells to Gulf monarchies. Israel has not ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, which prohibits the sale of weapons at risk of being used in genocide and crimes against humanity.  And so naturally, it’s played an integral role arming genocidal governments over the years, including in Guatemala, Indonesia, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka.

But Israel will suspend sales if a country goes too far in its criticism of Israeli actions. In October, this happened with Colombia after its president Gustavo Petro made comments, such as “terrorism is killing innocent children in Palestine” and accused Israel of turning Gaza into a “concentration camp.”

Israel called Colombia’s ambassador to a meeting in which she was informed that defense cooperation between the countries would be suspended.

The Colombian Air Force’s primary fighter jet and only high-performance combat aircraft is made by IAI. According to Defense News,  “the Kfir jets are also armed with weapons acquired from Israel, including the Derby BVR medium-range air-to-air missiles from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Griffin laser-guided-bombs from IAI. And the Kfirs use Python III and Python IV all-aspect, heat-seeking, close-range air-to-air missiles, made by Rafael.” Colombia also got its infantry rifles and primary anti-tank missiles from Israeli companies.

The relationship between Israel and Colombia is much deeper than just that, however, as described by Loewenstein in “The Palestine Laboratory.” Infamous Israeli-manufactured Galil rifles ended up with Colombian drug lords in the late 1980s after being used in the Guatemalan genocide. More:

American and Colombian investigators discovered that the weapons were part of a murky deal between Israeli mercenaries and and Medellin cocaine cartel head Jose Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha when he wanted to take over the country and build a neofascist state. Wanting Israelis to help him with this project made sense, considering the sort of work elements of the Israeli military had done in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s.…

The former drug trafficker Carlos Castano, who ran a far-right paramilitary force, explains in his ghost-written autobiography, “I learned an infinite amount of things in Israel [in the 1980s], and to that country I owe part of my essence, my human and military achievments. I copied the concept of paramilitary forces from the Israelis.”

Decades later, Israeli company Global Comprehensive Security Transformation (Global CST), founded by a former head of the Operations Directorate of the IDF, played a major role assisting the Colombian military in its war against the FARC rebel group.

In a promotional video for Global CST in 2011, made when he was president of Colombia, Santos praised the company as “people with a lot of experience.” Santos told an Israeli TV program that he was excited about the Israeli trainers used by the firm: “We’ve [Colombians] even been accused of being the Israelites of Latin America, which personally makes me feel really proud.” The show mentioned Colombia’s 2008 raid into Ecuador and killing of FARC’s second-in-command Paul Reyes. The narrator praised the mission: “All of a sudden, the methods that proved efficient in Nablus and Hebron begin speaking Spanish.”

Colombia for the time being will have a more difficult time gaining access to such services from Israeli companies. Other countries may be wary of losing similar assistance.

From the Israeli side, there are still plenty of customers, and the government is streamlining the sale process. New government regulations introduced last year will allow Israel to sell more weapons to more countries without the requirement to obtain a license – not that there was much danger of a sale being blocked anyways. [1]

Weapons Sales

Israeli weapons are still flying off the shelves amid the genocide in Gaza, as it appears Israel’s failures on the battlefield are not dissuading buyers. Israel is, by far, the world’s largest exporter of military drones: in 2017, it was estimated that it was behind nearly two-thirds of all UAV exports over the previous three decades.

According to CTech, Israeli ‘kamikaze’ drones are in high demand amid the war on Gaza war, with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) completing at least a few deals since Oct. 7. IAI sold to at least four NATO countries last year as well, including its Rotem loitering munitions. A big selling point is that they have been “proven in different combat situations.”

And Israel has been testing out all types of new weapons in Gaza, including loitering munitions and the fire monitoring system SMASH, which uses artificial intelligence-based image processing to lock onto the target, tracking movement to synchronize the shot. This is reportedly the first time SMASH is being used in live situations, and according to Ynet, “the proven success in wartime has increased the demand for the system worldwide.”

Many more weapons are being “showcased” in Gaza. From the Foundation for Defense of Democracies:

The Smash technology is not the only one Israel has highlighted in the recent conflict. The Iron Sting precision mortar system, made by Elbit Systems, has also been used for the first time in this conflict. On Friday December 15, the IDF said it struck a launch post in Lebanon using the Iron Sting. That same day, the IDF also used Iron Sting to hit a weapon storage in Khan Yunis. In addition, the IDF said that the 414th IDF battalion used a Maoz drone for the first time to strike terrorist cells in Khan Yunis. This was apparently the first time it was used by this unit, because the system has been used several times recently and was first used in Jenin in July. The Maoz is also known as the Spike FireFly, and it is a loitering munition that slams into a target but can hover overhead and wait for a target to become available. It is made by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Taken together, these three systems — the Smash sights, the Iron Sting and the Maoz — are all examples of precision munitions that can be used against relatively small targets.

Rafael has an order backlog which currently stands at $10.1 billion.

In our age of polycrisis, Israeli military tech firms are cashing in, meeting the needs of the times, which is highlighted by a passage in Loewenstein’s book that stood out to me:

Neither anti-Semitism nor extremism have been an impediment to collaboration with states that plunder assets or people.

About that plunder:

That plunder is a main driver behind the crises coming in waves, and the backlash it creates leads to even more of a perceived need of weapons and surveillance tech, which Israel is happy to provide, as evidenced by the 130 countries that have bought weapons, drones and cyberspying technology from Israel, the world’s 10th-largest weapons exporter. And no plunderer wants to lose access to useful Israeli tools at a time like this.

Despite (or because of) supply chain breakdowns and dealing with financial crises, pandemics, etc., sales of the top 100 arms companies continue to grow. US weapons sales to foreign governments jumped 49 percent in 2022, and Israel keeps setting weapons sales records, including $12.5 billion in 2022. This year is expected to be even better, and investors are pouring cash into military tech start-ups in Israel, likely expecting a nice pay off from the weapons getting live use in Gaza.

We can look back to the 2014 Gaza War for a glimpse into how this works, as Al Jazeera describes:

 Elbit, the maker of the Iron Sting, provides up to 85 percent of the land-based equipment procured by the Israeli military and about 85 percent of its drones, according to Database of Israeli Military and Security Export (DIMSE). But after the 2014 Gaza war, its export market expanded significantly, too. Elbit promotes its Hermes UAVs as “combat-proven” and the “primary platform of the IDF in counter-terror operations”.

The Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 were both used extensively in “Operation Protective Edge”, Israel’s 2014 war, during which 37 percent of fatalities were attributed to drone attacks, according to an estimate by the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.

Elbit subsequently secured contracts for the new Hermes 900 drone with more than 20 countries worldwide including the Philippines, which purchased 13, as well as India, Azerbaijan, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Iceland, the European Union, Mexico, Switzerland and Thailand. In March 2023, Elbit Systems announced their 120th order for the Hermes 900.

Israel is expecting the same to happen whenever it ends its war on Gaza – if it gets to decide when the widening conflict ends and the more than 300,000 Israelis drafted to reserve duty go back to work. The new chairman of the Israel Securities Authority, Seffy Zinger, recently told Reuters, “We believe there is an opportunity in Israel that after the war the economy will grow. The same thing happened in past wars or military campaigns in Israel the last two decades. And the high tech sector is very strong.”

Surveillance Setback?

While its overreliance on technology was in large part responsible for Israel’s failure to prevent the Oct. 7 attack, the country’s industry faces another pressing challenge.

At the recent major defense expo in the heart of France – the country whose defense minister says international genocide law doesn’t apply to Israel – there were no Israeli spyware firms to be found.

They are facing pushback from worldwide clients, but it has nothing to do with their treatment of “human animals” in Gaza and the West Bank.

No, the reason was largely because US and EU firms want a bigger share of the market for offensive spyware and have been critical of Israeli companies in the same field, such as NSO Group and its Pegasus spyware. It can hack into devices remotely, giving its operators full access to a phone and has been used on journalists and activists around the world.

While the US blacklists Israeli and Israeli-owned spyware firms (including NSO), it continues to develop and deploy even more powerful surveillance tools against Americans and the rest of the world.

Researchers have documented over two thousand U.S. law enforcement agencies that have procured digital forensics technology, which require physical possession of a target’s device in order to install, but the level of intrusiveness can be even greater than that of remote spyware technology. Loewenstein writes in “The Palestine Laboratory” that “the likely reason behind Biden’s moves against NSO was US concerns that an Israeli company was encroaching on American technological supremacy.”

There are also European firms who were out in force at the Milipol Paris showcasing the same abilities that the West criticized NSO for. From Haaretz:

Though Israeli offensive cyber firms did not attend, their European competitors did: RCS, producer of the Hermit spyware that is considered a competitor of NSO’s Pegasus; Memento Labs, formerly known as Hacking Team; and IPS-Intelligence, all Italian firms, were present. Alongside these known spyware vendors, previously unreported ones also pitched on the expo floor: Invasys, a Czech firm being revealed here for the first time, offered an “offensive cyber” program Kelpie with the ability to hack iPhones and Android and thus access fully encrypted communications apps.

Despite the competition putting the squeeze on Israeli spyware companies, there were still more than a dozen firms in Paris that were part of an official Israeli delegation organized by Israel Export Institute. One was Toka Cyber, which refused to provide any details of their activities to the media. But when Haaretz reporters reminded the companies’ representatives that the publication reported last year that ‘the firm sells tech that hacks into security cameras and even alters their video feeds for intelligence and operational needs, Toka’s representatives responded: “allegedly.”’


[1] According to “The Palestine Laboratory,” the Israeli government approved every defense deal brought to it since 2007, according to details uncovered in 2022 by Israeli human rights lawyer Eitay Mack.

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  1. ciroc

    Are Israeli weapons and surveillance equipment worth more than Russian oil and natural gas? Many countries, including Arab countries, see the US behind Israel and understand that to be hostile to Israel is to be hostile to the US.

    1. Candide

      About Colombia… An earlier post by Nick Corbishley named the former Mossad chief who led the massacre of thousands who had been convinced to lay down their arms during a struggle for economic survival in Colombia, as people pressed to be heard by their government. “Why choose violence” they were advised in the 1980s, “simply run for office!” And every candidate of that political party and their allies in local government were assassinated. Guatemala was mentioned in this article. When President Carter and his human rights officer Patt Derian were aghast at the bloodbath the US supported in Guatemala, Israeli military who brought their experience with the Palestinian people, were invited to continue the genocide. So our government and the Israeli military have been hand in hand in our hemisphere supporting genocide, oppression and domination by international business. Instead of humane policies helping people of the region recover, refugees from the results are met with indifference and blame at our southern border. There has to be be a broader understanding of cause and effect. We are ultimately all in this together, and this website offers much toward that end… um… beginning :-)

      1. Biologist

        Thanks for bringing up this part of Colombia’s history. M19 is the name of the armed group you mention, who laid down their arms and entered politics, only to be slaughtered en masse. One of their leaders was Carlos Pizarro, who ran for president in 1990, and was murdered during the campaign, aboard an airplane (2 other left or liberal candidates were also killed). His daughter, Maria José Pizarro, is now senator and close ally of current president Gustavo Petro. Petro was, of course, also member of M19, but survived. Some background on his stance on the US and Israel.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Seems that one of the rules of the International Rules based Order is that every country is expected to show loyalty to Israel – but which will never be reciprocated. In darker moments, I wonder if some world governments want to make their populations virtual Palestinians. Take a look at what Israel has been doing. Gaza was renowned as an open-air prison and the Israelis were experimenting on them to refine their technology for sale internationally. Not so much the walls but the spying, the surveillance tools, the policing practices, etc.

    So as an example of how this has worked out, since the early 2000s thousands of U.S. police officers, sheriffs, border patrol agents, ICE officers and FBI agents have trained with Israeli military and police forces and returned home to put that training into practice. Average Americans are now receiving the same treatment as Palestinians as a result and law enforcement is not so much members of the community as an “Us vs. Them” mentality. For me, this is a serious WTF. America can’t train it’s own police officers? Or is it that they want to imbue a loyalty to Israel with this training?

    I know that Modi wants to get in tight with Israel and he probably wants to have that technology to keep India’s Muslims under thumb – along with all the other minorities. The Israelis consider themselves the Chosen People? For Modi it seems that he considers the Hindus as the Chosen People of the subcontinent and the Israelis will be happy to sell him those tools. So my point remains that countries will want to control their populations like the Israelis do the Palestinians which leaves the Israelis in a unique position. But of course it is only a matter of time until average Israelis too are treated like Palestinians as well.

    1. ISL

      your thoughts have a seriously dark cyberpunk character, but ring true. That said, such digital technology is easy to develop and push forward anywhere on the planet as the start-up costs are not high – unlike high tech manufacturing, so it, like the US geopolitical dominance of the international legal and financial apparatus will not last.

    2. Victor Sciamarelli

      I don’t want to be too cynical but I think when leaders like Erdoğan or Gustavo Petro start venting while continuing to do business, imo it’s not because they can’t sleep at night due to the moral quandary of the Gaza genocide, rather, like most people in business, what they mean is the price has got to change. If they’re buying they want a better deal and if selling they expect you to pay more.

  3. ISL

    Micheal Hudson recently argued that the US threatened the dollar reserves of SA, Turkey, etc. if they do more than talk, and of course, other economic warfare.

    I suspect some in the region are, thus, supporting the Houthi with plausible (to the Biden Admin) deniability. Also, the reported 60 Egyptian tunnels into Israel for military operations in the event the IOF attacks, could already be transferring weapons, drones, etc., to Hamas “discretely.” Hamas obviously has excellent opsec, so we won’t know for many years.

    Access to military hardware is a long-term issue and many nations can probably safely bet that the amoral Israeli’s will resume sales once the conflict is settled (assuming Israel has an economy at the end of the war), desperately in need of money.

    Plus its a great time to bribe – I mean recruit – those Israeli military knowledge workers to immigrate to countries where rockets do not fall. How many Israeli’s have already fled? Start a war with Hezbollah and it will become a different type of flood and it will not be of the lower Israeli classes.

    In any case, the fallout from the Ukraine war will be bad for US MICC (Israel extension) MICC marketing for decades.

    1. Yves Smith

      I often have to contest unsubstantiated claims made by Hudson in his interviews (he’s vastly more careful in his written work). I missed that one and should have taken issue with it. Readers citing claims by Hudson like this as if they were authoritative is making me more and more reluctant to post Hudson interviews.

      1. Kouros

        Given the precedent, US threatening Iraq of witholding the oil proceeds that must run through New York, If US military is expelled from Iraq, why the skepticism?

        1. Yves Smith

          Did you miss my statement? In literally every interview Hudson gives, he has a major error, often more than one. I have to restrain myself in my intros when I correct them and usually limit myself to two. I have seen nothing of the kind consistent with Hudson’s claim, and big claims require big proofs. I note you have not provided one either. Iraq is not in the same category as SA because we conquered Iraq, seized assets like Iraq property in the US, and still treat it as our satrapy:

          Since 2003, all Iraqi oil revenues have been paid into an account with the US Federal Reserve. Although Iraqis formed a sovereign government after the US invasion and occupation of their state, Iraq is still restricted from opening accounts for its oil earnings outside the United States.


    2. ISL

      Please, then, let me add my citation about the Egyptian tunnel story:


      I have been following Mahmood OD, and have not noted any obvious falacious sourcing, moreover, it is known that Hamas has tunnels under the border, so it stands to reason Egypt would have an interest in its own. Thus, I assess this information as probable.

      Michael Hudson had stated that the Biden threatened the Saudi Gold reserves in his recent interviews with Danny Haiphong and I think somewhere else. I assumed he had a source, rather than speculation as a reasonable possibility.

      1. Yves Smith

        Unfortunately, what you said Hudson said about Saudi gold reserves is going to lead me to not run any more of his interviews. I can’t dignify unsubstantiated talk like that by reposting it on my site. If someone like Alastair Crooke, who has impeccable contacts all over the Middle East, said that, I would believe it, but Hudson does not.

      2. Yves Smith

        I e-mailed Hudson and he denies he said what you attributed to him. And I checked the transcript and you have this 100% wrong.

        I can’t have readers Making Shit Up. It makes Hudson and the site look bad and I have to waste time cleaning your informational mess up.

  4. t

    “How big of a role do Israeli sales of weapons and surveillance technology play in those decisions?”
    Pegasus was my second thought. And I suppose the obvious failure doesn’t matter.

  5. Skip Intro

    It sounds like the first step to dislodging Israel’s hold on world governments is strangling its arms export industry. I expect that their sales of surveillance technology to these government may have had backdoors inadvertent errors that sent exposed sensitive information to the vendors, allowing them to blackmail gain more intimate influence within those governments.

  6. paul m whalen

    I’m sure Israel’s threats to use its nukes as been a large factor in deterring a full out assault by its neighbors like Iran; Hezbollah et al. The US has told the Israeli’s “We’ll handle the Houthis, no nukes necessary.”

  7. Chris Cosmos

    This article shows the reality of realpolitik so thanks for it. Mao said that power comes out of the barrel of a gun and he was right. States rule, in general, through the application of force. Surveillance, propaganda, the domination of cyber-space, are extensions of State power. Israel, always skating the edges of “legality” from its beginnings will continue to do so and other countries will follow.

    After the two world wars in the 20th century when the US emerged as a global empire; some of its founders believed it was possible to make the world more “humanitarian” as the idea of “international law” flourished. But that era is loooong gone. It’s over. Rules-based order has replaced “law” officially in the past decade of so (unofficially it, convenieeently it ended in 2001). There is no international law because there is no enforcement mechanism. The international bodies charged with enforcing law (the UN, ICC, ICJ) are all either pawns of the Empire (ICC) i.e., only crimes against the Empire are its jurisdiction.

    Unlike many dissidents, I don’t think Israel is in danger no matter what it does with the Palestinians because Israel is useful, as an outlaw piratical regime, just as the Jews of Europe flourished in the Middle Ages because they were useful, as bankers to States that enabled them to go to war. Today, Israel is useful as enablers to State-repression for our gradually evolving prison planet. I don’t think that sort of dystopia will be our fate for reasons I won’t go into here.

  8. spud

    free trade is a billionaires minting machine. so if you do not like fascism, do every thing you can to enlighten the people.

    why aren’t other nations joining? the clintonites can explain when they were pushing their fascism, “no one will want to upset the apple cart”.

    this is correct, its why you see the E.U. slowly sinking into fascism with little or no push back except hungary.

    fascism always fails, but sometimes slowly, sometimes in a spectacular fashion. but fail it will.

  9. Feral Finster

    Do I really have to explain why?

    The United States has already shown in Yemen how it deals with dissenters.

  10. JonnyJames

    Thank you for this very informative article: it connects dots that are not widely visible.

    Turkey, KSA et al. talk a good game for domestic consumption, but they play a different game when it comes to foreign policy. Israel is an integral part of the global Tech/Weapons/Surveillance/Espionage complex. Sadly, Palestine is used as a testing ground for weapons, surveillance etc. This article is well timed due to the evidence that Israel knew in advance about the plans for Oct. 7.

    A comment from ISL above mentions that Michael Hudson suggested that the US threatened Turkey and other countries’ USD holdings and could engage in more (illegal) economic warfare. Yves responded that these claims were undocumented. That may be true, but what Dr. Hudson claims is a real possibility. It would be great to see this aspect explored further. \

    Also, on other threads, some people seem to claim that US foreign policy is almost solely dictated by Israel and The Lobby. I don’t disagree with the massive influence of The Lobby, however there are many more reasons why the US and other countries ally with Israel, as this fine article outlines. In addition, we have the US gov. spending over a trillion a year on weapons/war/military/surveillance/espionage ever year. Some claim the Iraq war was only to serve Israel. Joseph Stiglitz and others have estimated the total cost of the Iraq war was 2-4 TRILLION. So Israel was not the primary beneficiary, not even close

    In short, US foreign policy is not because the evil Israelis have hijacked the well-intentioned US gov/oligarchy. The institutional (and criminal) corruption of the US gov has allowed all of this to happen in the first place.

  11. furnace

    I’m as always impressed by the way both US and Israelis are going like the party is never going to end (bad investors always act like that, so I’m not surprised). Israel is unquestionably in an existential crisis, even more so after the Lebanon front gets blown wide open, and it might well be the case that Rafael will be incapable of meeting orders because all its factories and command centers will have been blown to bits. Does no one take that into account?

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