Israel and Spain maintain close economic and military relations. Israel has exported to Spain a large amount of military equipment, weapons, security technology and military training since the 1990s. Israel and Spain have also close ties in matters of military Research & Development. Israeli arms are also manufactured in Spain with Israeli licenses.
Israel – Spain Relations
Spain and Israel had no diplomatic relations until 16 January 1986, when the protocol agreement in The Hague was signed. On February 8 of the same year, the respective ambassadors were appointed. Israeli exports to Spain have been exempted from customs duties since 1993, and the same applies to the bilateral agreement regarding the Spanish exports since the beginning of 1992.
In 2005 the Spain-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry was created, which aims to promote collaboration between private companies and Spanish and Israeli public administrations in the commercial, technological, economic, scientific, industrial, touristic and sociocultural areas. The chamber itself specifies that it covers “all sectors”.Defense, Security and occupation as a Business : Military, armaments and security trade relations between Spain and Israel
In 2014, Israeli defense exports amounted to close to $ 7,000 million a year. As for 2020 it could stand already at $10 million. Defense, Security and occupation as a Business : Military, armaments and security trade relations between Spain and Israel
From the Israeli perspective, Spain is a good route into Europe for its arms industry, and this interest increases with the creation of a single agency for acquisitions of defense products carried out by Europe. Thus, although Spain is not one of Israel’s main customers in military material, it is one of the most important objectives for cooperation between companies. “The average annual turnover between Spanish and Israeli companies ranges between 50 and 70 million dollars”, said Itamar Graff, former chief counsel of the delegation of the Defense Ministry of Israel in Spain.
Different military agreements between Spain and Israel were signed between 1997-2012 including the MoU on Defense Industrial Cooperation (1997), the MoU on Assurance of Defense Products’ Quality (1998), the MoU on Cooperation in Military and Defense Research and Development (2004). The largest military cooperation agreement that was signed in 2009, serves as a legal framework for the development of any project of bilateral cooperation in the field of defense.Defense, Security and occupation as a Business : Military, armaments and security trade relations between Spain and Israel In 2010 another MoU on military relations and cooperation was signed. In 2011 an agreement on the protection of classified information between the countries was signed and in 2012 an agreement on policies to “fight terrorism, organized crime, money laundering, cyber-crimes and criminal behavior in general.Defense, Security and occupation as a Business : Military, armaments and security trade relations between Spain and Israel
Military trade relations between Spain and Israel are not really based on arms exports but on industrial cooperation. The Israeli Defense Ministry has cooperated with a high number of Spanish companies, among others with Indra and Tecnobit. In the opposite direction, many Israeli military companies collaborate with the Spanish industry, mainly on electronic warfare systems, missiles, and protection of vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles or border protection, among others.
The first relations in the military field were oriented to the modernization of M-60 combat vehicles, flight simulators, electronic transmissions and observation from the air, plus other aeronautical exchange equipment.
In 1988 Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) opened a permanent office to facilitate military cooperation between Spain and Israel. “Ingenieros de España e Israel establecen contractos técnicos para el desarrollo de un futuro misil español”, El País, 2 February 1989.
The volume of Israeli exports to Spain is difficult to calculate because, in contrast to Spanish exports, the Spanish and Israeli Governments do not publish information and not many other sources knowing that data are identified. These transfers are much higher than Spanish exports, and only the purchase of Spike missiles from the Israeli company Rafael in 2006 represented a cost of 324 million euro.Spain-Israel Military, Homeland Security and Armament-Based Relations, Affairs and Trends
In 1995, Spain acquired Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and modernized the configuration of its Boeing 707 to the SIGINT system (intelligence signals). The company in charge of this modernization was IAI. This system is based on the technology of the Israeli companies Elta Electronics and Tamam. Furthermore, the Spanish army has used the air system for search and rescue ARS 700 of the Israeli company Tadiran Spectralink, as well as the rescue survival radio PRC-434 of the same company. Spanish soldiers serving in Bosnia used the latter. Examples of Israeli imports of military material and other attempts to gain access to contracts by Israeli companies are numerous.Spain-Israel Military, Homeland Security and Armament-Based Relations, Affairs and Trends Most significant arms that were exported from Israel to Spain include UAVs, targeting pods for combat aircrafts and anti-tank missiles.STOCKHOLM INTERNATIONAL PEACE RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Subsidiaries of Israeli Security Companies in Spain are Pap Tecnos (most of Rafael’s transactions in Spain take place through it), and Aeronautics Enterprise Espana S.A. In addition the Spanish company Triedro (owned by Revenga Group) fabricates development systems together with the Israeli company Bluebird Aero Systems Ltd.
Companies, that are offering and distributing arms in Spain include Rabintex Industries, Meprolight, Smart S, Source Military, Israeli Military Industries, IMI Defense, Agilite, FAB Defense, Heartech, Cupron, MTI Wireless Edge, and Landatel. The products can be imported from Israel or manufactured in Spain with Israeli License.Defense, Security and occupation as a Business : Military, armaments and security trade relations between Spain and Israel
In 2022 the Israeli company Plasan signed a contract with Spanish TESS Defence for the armoring of 348 VCR Dragon combat vehicle for the Spanish Army. Deliveries started in January 2022 and will continue until 2026.Plasan to Armor Spanish Army’s Future Combat Vehicles
Intelligence, Homeland Security and Cyber Security
Relations between Israel and Spain are also important in the area of Intelligence and Homeland Security including information exchange on strategic and operational intelligence, coordination of activities (technical and scientific assistance, cooperation in professional training, transfer of specialized equipment), promotion of joint research and organizing meetings, conferences, and courses.
Reports show that through services by the Spanish company “Guardian Defense and Homeland Security” Spanish and Catalan security forces conducted trainings in Israel, led by official Israeli security forces.Catalan Police in Israel: repression courses #TestedInCombat Homeland Security Guardian SA, based in Spain, is the parent company of Guardian Holdings LTD, which has an export license since March 2006 from the Israeli Ministry of Defense for products and services related to security and defense. The company was founded by former members of the Special Security Services of Israel: Ariel Mazoz, Ilan Arzooan and General (ret) Dr. Yom Tov Samia.Guardian Defense and Homeland Security official website
Civil Guard officers (individually) or bodyguards of businesspeople, politicians and judges in the Basque Country were students in courses conducted in Israel. Security and Intelligence Advising provided a course in Israel, attended by representatives of the Spanish firms BBVA, Telefónica and Renfe.Sia Corp Official website : News Training programs were also carried out in Spain. For example, in April 2008, two Hebrew experts instructed agents of the National Intelligence Centre (CNI) and civil guards, mainly in the management of express kidnappings and the detection of “Islamist terrorist groups”.Spain-Israel Military, Homeland Security and Armament-Based Relations, Affairs and Trends
Cellebrite has been contracted by the Spanish Army, Policia Nacional and Guardia Civil.Mass Surveillance Cellebrite – Spain In 2016 Cellebrite announced that UFED was used by Europol and the Spanish Police to dismantle a main European union hub for distribution of counterfeit goods. Twitter : UFED used by Europol & Spanish Police to dismantle main European union hub for distribution of counterfeit goods Intelligence Online : Excem, Israeli cyber’s bridgehead in Spain In 2017 In the case of Spain, Cellebrite’s technology has been used by the Guardia Civil to hack the phone of Josep Maria Jové, a Catalan politician arrested for allegedly organizing the 1st October referendum and who refused to give his password to the officers.El Espanol : La Guardia Civil tuvo que ir a Munich para desbloquear un móvil de Jové In 2017 Media reports claimed that an iPhone 6 that was dredged out of the water in Spain has been unlocked by Cellebrite for Spanish Law enforcement.Spanish media claims iPhone 6 with Secure Enclave unlocked by Cellebrite in course of investigation OnRetrieval is Cellebrite’s official representative/distributor in Spain for the marketing of its tools.OnRetrieval official website : Cellebrite Hardware
In 2021 it was reported that the Spanish government has bought 15 Cellebrite UFED Touch2 analyzers for the General Police Office for Immigration and Borders (CGEF).El Gobierno compra 15 unidades del Cellebrite UFED Touch 2: qué son y cómo funcionan
Spain as a Gateway to Latin America and Europe
Because Spain is the gateway to Central and South America, as well as to Europe and North Africa, it plays a role that goes beyond its borders. Spain’s relations with Israel go far beyond business in Spanish or Israeli territory. The companies of the two countries cooperate to have access to contracts and opportunities in third countries. One of the companies that stand out in this regard is Indra. Indra and Rafael, for example, work together on a “very interesting program in a Latin American country.” According to Rafael, “with Indra we hardly compete, hence our partnership to work jointly in international programs.”La compañía israelí Rafael se instala en España con la compra de la empresa local PAP Tecnos”, Infodefensa.com, 14 June 2010. In Latin America, Indra is present in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.
Spanish Arms Export to Israel
In 2020 Spain has vetoed three large export deals with Israel over fears the equipment would be “misused”. A report indicates that the largest contract which was annulled was a security equipment sale worth 10 million Euros to a private company. The Spanish government also decided to revoke a sale of 2,000 handcuffs to Israel’s police — a deal worth around 17,000 Euros — over human rights infringements concerns.Haaretz : Spain Blocks Sales of Handcuffs, Equipment to Israel Over Human Rights Concerns, Report Says Another sales deal with a private company that was cancelled, worth around 95,000 Euros, included 550 units of electronic equipment for unmanned vehicles. The reason for cancelling was over fears it would be used for military purposes.I24 News : Spain vetoed large export deals with Israel over fears of ‘misuse:’ report
In 2019, Spain exported military supplies worth 2.1 million Euros to Israel, including weapons, ammo and night vision means.I24 News : Spain vetoed large export deals with Israel over fears of ‘misuse:’ report
Usage of Israeli Arms:
Searcher MK-II UAV – The Spanish military deployed four models in Afghanistan in 2008. The mission was to support the Spanish troops in Afghanistan from the military base in Herat, in the west of Afghanistan. Four aerial platforms, a ground control station, a launching/deployment and landing system, a ground data terminal, and a remote video terminal, with the corresponding logistics and training support were deployed. Between 2008-2014 the Searcher models have been used in more than 500 missions, totaling over 2,500 hours of flight, many of them in the provinces of Herat and Badghis.
Cardom Mortar System – in Use by Spanish Land Army. Were first used in Afghanistan in the “Goshawk” operation.
Mini Samson remote control systems – In use by Spanish Army
Spike missiles – Spike MR in use by Spanish Infantry units, Spike ER in use on Tiger helicopters. In 2012 the Land Army carried out the first launch with the new LR-Dual Spike missile in the training center of San Gregorio, in Zaragoza.Defense, Security and occupation as a Business : Military, armaments and security trade relations between Spain and Israel
Litening – In use by Spanish Air Force on F/A-18 aircraft fighters
Reccelite – used by the Spanish fleet of Boeing fighters.
UFED – Cellebrite’s technology has been used by the Spanish Army, Policia Nacional and Guardia Civil.Mass Surveillance Cellebrite – Spain In 2021 it was reported that the Spanish government has bought 15 Cellebrite UFED Touch2 analyzers for the General Police Office for Immigration and Borders (CGEF).El Gobierno compra 15 unidades del Cellebrite UFED Touch 2: qué son y cómo funcionan
Human Rights Violations:
In 2019 several protests took place in Catalonia. Although most demonstrations were largely peaceful, there were several violent incidents during which hundreds of people were injured. In a number of instances, the police used excessive force against protesters. At least 367 people needed medical assistance, four of whom reportedly lost sight in one eye after being hit by rubber bullets and balls fired by police to disperse protesters. None of the investigations into reports of excessive use of force by police during the protests in October 2017 in Catalonia had resulted in prosecutions by the end of the year.
Spain deployed military forces in Afghanistan from 2002-2015. Thousands of civilians were killed in this period by airstrikes of international military forces. Watson Institute, Brown University : Human Cost of the Post-9/11 Wars: Lethality and the Need for TransparencyWatson Institute, Brown University : War-related Death, Injury, and Displacement in Afghanistan and Pakistan 2001-2014
Refugees and Migrants
In the policies of external borders control of the European Union in general, and Spain in particular, the respect for fundamental rights of migrants trying to reach European territory by irregular means does not constitute a priority. The Spanish State fails to innact its own legal procedures re. Spanish border control regulations, using instead “routes de facto” infringing basic rights of foreign nationals who are seeking to enter Spain through irregular channels. Some examples:
- August-October of 2005. 16 migrants die at the borders of Ceuta and Melilla as a result of the actions of the Spanish and Moroccan security forces. Dozens were injured. The deaths and injuries occurred due to blows melted out with riot gear, rifle butts and shooting.Migreurop : the Protection of Migrant Rights in Europe – Spain
- September 2012.The Spanish Government carried out a collective expulsion of 73 migrants from the island of Tierra (territory beside the Moroccan coast under Spanish sovereignty), openly violating Spanish and international legislation applicable in these circumstances. Adequate humanitarian care was not provided, the right to seek international protection was violated, a collective expulsion, expressly forbidden in Spanish legislation, was carried out.Migreurop : the Protection of Migrant Rights in Europe – Spain