Israel and Finland hold close economic and military relations. The total value of the Finnish-Israeli arms trade is close to 200 million euros, most of it has been conducted between 2000-2022. Finland acquired among others UAVs, anti-tank missiles, tank ammunition, communication systems and camouflage systems from Israeli arms companies.
Israel – Finland Relations
Finland officially recognized Israel on 18 March 1949, and established official Diplomatic relations on November 14th 1950.Finland and Israel By the 1970’s, after Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and the Sinai, there was growing criticism of Israeli policies, including by Finnish heads of state.Davar, 21.03.1976 archive of NLI While this criticism continues, this has not halted economic relations between the countries, and in 1992 as part of a trade agreement with EFTA countries, Israel and Finland signed a trade treaty, and today the same is true in relation to Israel’s trade agreements with the EU that Finland had since joined. In 1999 the two countries signed a bi-lateral tax-break agreement.MoU double taxation Israel and Finland In 2015, the trade between the countries was 350 Million USD (both important and export).Ministry of Economy Israel : Denmark Trade Report
2020 – Visit of the President of Finland in January 2020 for Celebration of diplomatic relations between the countries.Maariv : Finland President visits Israel with Finish CEOs
2009 – Israel minister of defense meets Finland’s minister of defense Jyri Häkämies in Tel Aviv.Ynet : Defense Minister Barak meets Defense Minister of Finland
Israeli-Finnish arms relations date back to the 1950’s when Israeli arms companies were manufacturing Finnish licenses artillery, but in the past two decades these relations have grown.FINNISH-ISRAELI ARMS INDUSTRY ALREADY IN THE 1950S In 2012 a military cooperation agreement was signed between the two countries, including a confidentiality clause on classified information in the fields of defense and security. This means that much of the military cooperation between the two countries is classified and not known to the public.Finland seeks to hide arms trade with Israel
In addition to the ongoing arms trade between the two countries, in 2019 SIBAT, the Israeli Ministry of Defense International Defense Cooperation Directorate, announced that Finland is one of six target markets for Israel’s arms export in the coming years.Defense Ministry seeks to expand Israel’s arms exports
In 2015 media reported that Finland’s security agency IT was involved in the surveillance that lead to the killing of Hizbollah member Samir Kuntar in Damascus.Finland’s IT helped to assasinate Samir Kuntar In other reports it was said that evidence was found at the site of Kuntar’s assassination, linking Israel to the airstrike. According to the report Israeli warheads from smart bombs featuring Israeli markings were found among the rubble and radar systems located in the area identified Israeli fighter jets.Israeli bomb fragments found at site of Kuntar assassination: media
Finland bought among others UAVs, anti-tank missiles, tank ammunition, communication systems and camouflage systems:
- UAVs: Finland bought Ranger UAVs from IAI in 1999Finland Orders IAI’s Ranger UAV (Oct. 1) and 2003muuttuva asekauppa tapaustutkimus Suomesta ja Israelista and Orbiter UAVs from Aeronautics in 2012.Miniature Unmanned Aerial System Orbiter 2b
- SPIKE missiles: According to SaferGlobe, in 2000 Finland bought about 300 Spike anti-tank missiles for EUR 37.2 million and in 2002 Finland another 200 or so missiles for EUR 21 million.muuttuva asekauppa tapaustutkimus Suomesta ja Israelista More missiles were acquired later, including another 200 anti-ship missiles in 2006 for coastal defence.Anti-ship missile 06 (Euro Spike ER) According to Sipri, the total number of Spike missiles Finland has bought is now up to 900.Sipri Arms Trade database. In 2011 the Finnish company Millog Oy, which is part of the Finnish arms group Patria, took Finland’s Spike missiles to Israel for maintenance.
- Communication Systems: Finland purchased field radio systems from Elbit in 2000Organization: Finland supports Israel’s war crimes with arms sales, 2002Organization: Finland supports Israel’s war crimes with arms sales, 2009Elbit Systems to supply high-speed radio and data communication systems to Finnish Army and 2015Safer Globe : SUOMEN ASEVALVONTARAPORTTI. In 2012 the Finnish army acquired a command and target positioning system from Elbit and C4I. The deal included training and testing of the system.Elbit Systems Awarded Initial Contract to Supply Advanced Dismounted Soldier Systems to the Finnish Army
- Camouflage Systems: Finland purchased thousands of advanced multispectral camouflage systems from the Israeli company Fibrotex for the Finnish Defense Forces.Finland buys military equipment from Israel for over 50 million euros Finland Wants Israeli Camouflage
- Radar Systems: In 2019, IAI won a contract to supply C-MMR multi-task radar systems to the Finnish Army. The deal included training.Miksi Suomen uudesta aseostosta vaietaan? Israelilainen tutka pidetään visusti piilossa, ja jopa hankintapäätös on salainen
- Field Radios for Defense Forces: Finland purchased field radios for the Defence Forces. They will be supplied by Israeli Elbit systems C4I and Cyber Ltd. The overall value of the contract without value added tax is about EUR 24.48 million.Defence Forces to procure field radios
In 2018 the Finnish Defence Forces tested products of the Israeli company Smart Shooter, no official information on any purchases.The Defense Forces tested a state-of-the-art smart sight for an assault rifle – “Makes a bad shooter good”
It was reported that the Israeli company NSO Group offered its Pegasus spyware to the Finnish Defence Forces, but there no information on any purchases.Spyware was installed with a missed call – This is how the company accused of hacking Whatsapp works, which has also sold its products to the Finnish Defense Forces In January 2022 the Finnish Foreign Ministry announced that Finnish diplomats working abroad were targeted and hacked by NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/technology-science/1643472285-finland-claims-diplomats-mobile-devices-hacked-with-israeli-spyware
In 2022 Finland announced that they decided to purchase anti-aircraft equipment from one of two Israeli companies, either the Barak System from IAI or the David’s Sling System from Rafael.REUTERS : Finland to pick between two Israeli companies for anti-aircraft systems
In January 2023 it was reported that German-Israeli joint venture company EuroSpike (Rafael, Diehl Defence and Rheinmetall) made a deal with Finnish armed forces to supplz Spike anti-tank guided missiles. The acquisition is $223.6 million.EuroSpike to supply Spike guided missiles to Finland
Elbit and DA-Group – partnered in 2019 to produce and advertise anti-jamming devices for global navigation satellite systems.DA-Group ja Elbit Systems tarjoavat yhteistyössä ratkaisun GNSS-paikkatiedon häirinnän ongelmaan
Patria – Elbit and Patria carried out product development projects and product tests.Safer Globe : muuttuva asekauppa tapaustutkimus Suomesta ja Israelista Finland exports missile technology to Israel In 2015 Patria received three military export permits from Finland’s Ministry of Defense. These permits have to do with maintenance and military products, over which Finnish and Israeli companies cooperate. Elbit Systems and Plasan were identified as the recipients.Safer Globe : SUOMEN ASEVALVONTARAPORTTI Patria and Rafael also carried out joint product development around Rafael’s Spike missiles.Safer Globe : muuttuva asekauppa tapaustutkimus Suomesta ja Israelista
Usage of Israeli Arms
Orbiter UAV – 55 systems, with a total of 250 mini air vehicles in use by Finland’s Air Force since 2012. In 2009 and 2010, The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) conducted workshops on “RPA and Land Border Surveillance” in Imatra, Finland. This workshop included live demonstrations of mini-RPAs including the Rafael Orbiter, which Finland then purchased in 2012.Deploying Drones in Policing Southern European Borders: Constraints and Challenges for Data Protection and Human Rights While we do not know how these are used today by the Finish military, we do know that Finland is using drones to surveil its border with Russia, including to prevent immigration.Finland to test drones on Russian border as migrant flow grows
Mine Rollers by Urdan Metal & Casting Industries Ltd. – In use by Finnish Defense Forces on Leopard 2A4 tanks.MAAVOIMIEN LIIKKUVUUDEN JA TULIVOIMAN ROLL OUT PANSSARIPRIKAATISSA 5.8.2015
ELM-2311 Compact Multi Mission Radars – In use by Finnish Defense Forces since 2021 Puolustusvoimat hankkii vastatykistötutkia ja kehittää suorituskykyään
Gabriel V Advanced Naval Attack Missile – in use by Finnish Navy. Used by Pohjanmaa-class corvettes, Hamina-class missile boats and ground-based launchers.Finnish Navy unveils first details of its future Gabriel V anti-ship missile
Human Rights Violations
One of the most pressing Human Rights concerns in Finland today is the state’s treatment of refugees and immigrants. In 2018 Contrary to international standards, the authorities continued to detain unaccompanied children, and families with children, based on their immigration status. There was no time limit to detaining families with children. Family reunification remained difficult for most refugees due to both legislative and practical obstacles, including high income requirements. Despite international NGOs raising concern, Finland continued to forcibly return asylum-seekers whose applications were rejected to Afghanistan.
In addition to this, further in 2018 It enabled the acquisition of information on threats to national security by giving military and civilian intelligence agencies permission to conduct communications surveillance without any requirement for a link to a specific criminal offence.Amnesty Finland 2021 Report
Military service is still mandatory for all men, and alternative service in Finland is punitive (double the length of military service).