Sanctioned Israeli general denies role in South Sudan conflict - Whisper Eye

Sanctioned Israeli general denies role in South Sudan conflict

Israeli retired Major-General under United States sanctions for alleged role in the ongoing South Sudan conflict including arms sale to the warring parties on Sunday denied any wrongdoing saying he is ready to be investigated.

The US Department of Treasury on Friday slapped sanctions on Israel Ziv and three firms he controls, accusing him of using an agricultural consultancy as cover for weapons sales worth $150 million to the Juba government while also arming the opposition.

“He (Ziv) has also reportedly planned to organize attacks by mercenaries on South Sudanese oil fields and infrastructure, in an effort to create a problem that only his company and affiliates could solve,” a Treasury statement said.
However, in an exclusive interview with the Israel’s Army Radio, Ziv said he has never worked in weaponry labeling all the charges put against him by the United States as baseless and untrue.
“We have an amazing agriculture project there … that many communities depend on. Tens of thousands of people are employed through this project and it feeds the South Sudan market. So anyone who claims this project is a cover should come see it,” he said.
The US department also sanctioned two South Sudanese nationals, Obac William Olawo, a businessman and Gregory Vasili, former Governor of Gogrial state.
“This is not the first time the (US) administration has used sanctions to enforce its foreign policy,” Ziv said. “I am approachable … I want to believe in the decency of the administration. And they are welcome to come, to check, to investigate. We will open up everything for them.”
According to a recent study by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine researchers, at least 383,000 South Sudanese have died as a result of the war, through combat, starvation, disease or other factors.
South Sudan President, Salva Kiir Mayardiit, opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar in September signed a peace deal in Addis Ababa under the pressure of East African governments, UN and Western powers under which a new government will be formed under which Kiir will remain the President and Machar return to his old job as First Vice President.
Israel has close ties with the South Sudan regime which is accused of using Israeli arms and surveillance equipment in the civil war, which has left close to 400,000 people dead since 2013.
Former head of the Israeli army’s operations directorate Israel Ziv has been cited as one of the agents who used legal entities as a cover for the sale of millions of dollars worth of weapons to South Sudan.
His name was revealed after being sanctioned by the US Treasury Department on Friday for fueling the conflict in South Sudan where Washington has its own vested interests.
According to a Treasury statement, Ziv used an agricultural company that was nominally present in South Sudan to carry out agricultural and housing projects for the government.
The projects, however, were “a cover for the sale of approximately $150 million worth of weapons to the government, including rifles, grenade launchers and shoulder-fired rockets”, the statement noted.
Ziv was paid through South Sudan’s oil industry and is said to have “maintained the loyalty of senior Government of South Sudan officials through bribery and promises of security support”, it added.
Being in close collaboration with a major multinational oil firm, he also planned attacks by mercenaries on South Sudanese oil fields and infrastructure, in an effort to create a problem that only his company and affiliates could solve, according to the report.
Israel recognized South Sudan on July 10, 2011, a day after it seceded from Sudan. The youngest country in Africa has been embroiled in a civil war since December 2013 after a political disagreement between President Salva Kiir and the former vice president he had sacked, Riek Machar.
Back in 2016, an Israeli Channel 2 investigation implicated Ziv in the organization of public relations operations for President Kiir.
With the death toll estimated at 400,000, millions of people have also been displaced from their homes in the fighting.
Israel is said to be seeking to take advantage of the insurgency and Takfiri militancy gripping parts of Africa to sell advanced military equipment to conflict-ridden states such as South Sudan.
A 2016 UN report announced that Israel’s Micro Galil automatic rifles are “present in larger numbers than before the outbreak of the conflict” in South Sudan.
The rifles sold to Uganda in 2007 were transferred to South Sudan in 2014, the report said, adding that Israeli ACE rifles were also used in the 2013 massacre of Nuer citizens in South Sudan’s capital Juba.