India has for years been one of the largest purchasers of Israeli arms. Israel supplied 15% of India’s arms imports from 2014-2018, and 45% of Israel’s exports. The majority of Israel’s exports to India are made up of aerial defense, radar systems and ammunition. Israel and India signed several joint ventures agreements, developing a significant amount of Israeli production facilities in India. Trade deals and joint ventures have increased since the election of India’s Prime Minister Modi in 2014.
Although India recognized the state of Israel in 1950, it kept their relationship informal for fear of alienating Indian Muslim voters domestically, as well as Arab nations, and on account of India’s membership of the pro-Palestine Non-Aligned Movement. India and Israel also found themselves on opposing sides of the Cold War.
No longer obligated to Soviet-friendly foreign policy, India established full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 and opened an embassy in Tel Aviv. Since then, Indian-Israeli partnership has blossomed as a result of shared security and intelligence interests. As of 2014 India was Israel’s third largest Asian trade partner, with bilateral trade (excluding military sales) standing at $4.52b.
In 2003, Ariel Sharon became the first Israeli PM to visit India. In 2017, Narendra Modi became the first Indian leader to visit Israel and notably broke from convention in not visiting Palestine. Benjamin Netanyahu visited India in 2018 with a 130-member delegation, the biggest on record.
The figures show a steady rise in the volume of civilian trade between Israel and India, reaching $4.7 billion in 2019 and jumping to $6.6 billion in 2021. Ohad Cohen, head of the Foreign Trade Administration at the Ministry of Economy and Industry, said to the newspaper Globes that exports to India represent 3% of total Israeli exports, and that Israel’s three commercial missions in India focus on Israeli technology.Israel-UAE-India triangle holds huge trade potential
In the 2000s, Indian and Israeli interests converged around combatting terrorism. Shortly after Sharon’s 2003 visit, the countries’ defense services began joint military exercises and trainings. In 2008 Indian military officials visited Israel, New heights: India, Israel step up defence ties and following attacks in Mumbai later that year offered paramedics and counter-terrorist units to help. In 2009 the IDF Chief of Staff visited India.
The visit of the minister of defense Moshe Ya’alon to India in 2015, together with senior defense company executives, led to some huge deals. Among other things, Israel has sold to India warships, radar systems (the Arrow anti-missile system’s Green Pine radar), and missile systems. Notable deals include the $1.8 billion sale of Barak 8 surface-to-air missiles to India’s ground forces, and $400 million in sales of other products by Israel Aerospace Industries. The sale of Spike anti-tank missiles by Rafael in 2018 is estimated to be worth some $500 million.Israel-UAE-India triangle holds huge trade potential
Israel’s three largest defense companies, Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael, and Elbit Systems, maintain production facilities in India in partnership with local companies. Israel’s arms exports to India are estimated to be worth some $3 billion annually.Israel-UAE-India triangle holds huge trade potential
From 2015-19, 45% of Israeli arms sales were to India.Israel’s arms exports over past four years at highest ever Since 2014 Israeli-Indian arms sales have accelerated as Israel participated in the ‘Make-in-India’ government program that lead to Indian-Israeli joint ventures setting up arms manufacturing facilities in India. Israel has stated its support for Indian policy in Kashmir,Israel says will never support Pakistan on Kashmir and has conducted annual police trainings for the Indian Police Service (IPS) since 2014. In 2020, India was the largest buyer of Israeli arms.
Usage of Israeli Arms
Israeli police regularly train the same Indian police services that have been involved in violently addressing insurgency in Kashmir and Jammu with excessive force.Israel-India Military Relations: Ideological Paradigms of SecurityIndian police cadets learn from the Israel Police Punjab police travelled to Israel in 2014 for ‘anti-terror’ trainings, with additional plans for Israeli trainings in India, and the establishment of a training academy in India.Israel to train Punjab cops in anti-terror operations Since 2015 Indian Police Service (IPS) officer trainees have been visiting the Israel National Police Academy annually for a one-week long foreign exposure training at the end of their training at the National Police Academy in Hyderabad.Israel-India Military Relations: Ideological Paradigms of Security During the 2016 insurgency in Kashmir, there were 145 civilian deaths at police hands, and in 2019 disproportionate violence and mass detention was used in the region where Israeli drones have also been used for surveillance.
Tavor X95 assault rifles and Galil sniper rifles purchased in 2002, 2011, and 2017 have been used in counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir by the Indian Marine Commando Force (MARCOS).Tavor in India : Israeli Assault Rifle’s Journey and Prospects in IndiaIsrael-India Military Relations: Ideological Paradigms of SecurityIndia employing Israeli oppression tactics in Kashmir In 2017 Punj Lloyd Systems and IWI announced a joint venture to manufacture Tavors and Galils, and in the same year an IDF delegation visited Indian military headquarters in Kashmir and briefed commanders on their counterinsurgency efforts in Palestinian territories.Israeli army delegation visits Army’s Northern command headquarters in Jammu and Kashmir A 2017 partnership between Israeli Magal Security and Indian Dynamatic Technologies also suggests that technology implemented on the Gaza border and Separation Barrier, and used for settlement security, could be being used on the Indian-Pakistani border.
In 2018 CitizenLab showed that at least two dozen academics, journalists, and minority ethnic activists in India were targeted by Pegasus spyware developed by the Israeli NSO Group in a suspected abuse of international human rights law.WhatsApp confirms: Israeli spyware was used to snoop on Indian journalists, activistsOpen Letter to Blackstone Group: Human Rights Concerns and Risks with Potential NSO AcquisitionWhatsApp spyware: 22 confirmed cases of activists, lawyers, scholars targeted in India The operative in India, GANGES, (also used in Brazil, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, and Pakistan) used a politically themed domain signpetition[.]co to lure activists into inadvertently downloading the spyware. While Indian Ministry of Home Affairs denies having purchased Pegasus,Israel-India Military Relations: Ideological Paradigms of Security NSO Group stated that “We license our product only to vetted and legitimate government agencies.”WhatsApp confirms: Israeli spyware was used to snoop on Indian journalists, activistsHIDE AND SEEK: Tracking NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware to Operations in 45 Countries Pegasus was used in India to target activists connected to the Bhima Koregaon incident in January 2018 where protests became violent and one teenager died as a result of injuries related to suspected police brutality.Israel-India Military Relations: Ideological Paradigms of SecurityCaste violence erupts in India over 200-year-old faultline The spyware was used in 45 countries notably in Mexico, UAE, Bahrain, Togo, and Saudi Arabia including against Jamal Khashoggi. India also used Pegasus to spy on Pakistani government officials.Report: India spied on Pakistan using Israeli NSO technology
Medianama reported in 2020 that Cellebrite’s UFED Ultimate and Physical Analyzer is used to extract information from smartphones by the Delhi Police in India. The Delhi Police are currently under scrutiny for widespread, intrusive surveillance projects targeting peaceful protestors and opposition lawmakers.Exclusive: Delhi Police Has Tools To Extract Data From Smartphones, Including IPhonesI’m under ‘surveillance’, claims Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra, writes to Delhi Police chiefFacial Recognition and ‘Trade Secrets’: What Exactly are Police Forces Doing with Surveillance Tech In 2020 Cellebrite pitched Indian Police their technology to trace coronavirus.Special Report: Cyber-intel firms pitch governments on spy tools to trace coronavirus
In 2019, Israeli-sold Spice 2000 missiles were used against Pakistan in the Bakalot airstrike,Israeli bombs and rhetoric are dropped on both Palestine and Kashmir as were Phalcon AWACS radar systems,The Lessons: Key takeaways from IAF-PAF’s February 27 aerial engagement and the Crystal Maze system. Israel’s arms sales to India: Bedrock of a strategic partnership SPYDER SAMIsraeli Spyder used to shoot down Pakistani drone in Gujarat and Derby missilesThe Lessons: Key takeaways from IAF-PAF’s February 27 aerial engagement were used to shoot down Pakistani drone during the flareup.
Human Rights Violations
Indian police forces are culpable of numerous violations of human rights including restriction of freedom of speech, mass arbitrary detention, and use of excessive force, often resulting in fatalities. These are particularly notable in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2014, a young boy was fatally shot by Indian police during a protest against the Israeli siege on Gaza.Kashmir teen killed during anti-Israel rally In 2016, there were 145 civilian deaths in Kashmir and Jammu at the hands of the police.Kashmir unrest: What was the real death toll in the state in 2016?
After India revoked the region’s special status in August 2019, a policy of ‘administrative detention’ was implementedWhen it comes to Palestine and Kashmir, India and Israel are oppressors-in-armsIndia Failing on Kashmiri Human Rights and individuals were detained often without charges in suspected violation of due process.Israel detains Palestinians without charge under controversial ‘administrative detention’ policy By mid-September, 4,000 journalists, activists, and elected politicians had been arrested since the start of the insurgency in August,India: Free Kashmiris Arbitrarily Detained including children.Plea alleges detention of children in Kashmir, SC seeks report State surveillance and a communication blackout have been put in place, and the Chief of Defense Staff has spoken of establishing deradicalization camps in the region.Fear in Kashmir as top general talks of ‘deradicalisation’ camps Freedom of expression restrictions and police violence can be seen throughout India against activists and journalists, for example the killings of thirteen environmental protestors in Thoothukudi in 2018.UN experts condemn deadly police response to protest against copper smelting plant in India, call for probe
Police and judicial systems neglect violence against religious and ethnic minorities, including Muslims, Dalits, and indigenous peoples, as well as sexual and domestic violence against women.India: Events of 2019- Jammu and Kashmir Repressive and discriminatory laws have been passed to allow government the power to designate individuals as terrorists. Legislation has been passed to undermine the rights of transgender people, and the Citizenship Act amendment in 2019 endangers Muslims citizens, as well as asylum seekers and refugees.Everything you need to know about human rights in India Recent citizen registers have excluded nearly two million people, stripping them of rights and subjecting them to potential detention. These measures particularly affect vulnerable groups like indigenous peoples and women. Millions of forest dwelling indigenous communities face eviction by a 2019 Supreme Court ruling.