‘A deep-rooted hatred of the British’: How Israelis ‘armed junta’ in Falklands conflict
By MAIL FOREIGN SERVICE
UPDATED: 21:45, 20 April 2011
Israel secretly provided arms and supplies to Argentina during the Falklands conflict, according to revelations in a new book.
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin had such a deep-rooted hatred of the British that the Jewish state covertly became the biggest supplier of military equipment to the Argentine military junta.
Gas masks, radar alert systems, air-to-air missiles and fuel tanks for fighter bombers were sent from Tel Aviv to arm General Galtieri’s forces. The most audacious deal involved supplying 23 French-built fighter aircraft – Mirage IIICs – which were camouflaged with the insignia of Peru. But they arrived after the war was over.
Britain, under Margaret Thatcher, retook the Falkland Islands in June 1982, two and a half months after Argentina invaded. Some 255 British servicemen, more than 650 Argentines and three islanders were killed.
Although it was well known at the time that France was supplying missiles to Argentina – most infamously the Exocet missiles used to sink HMS Sheffield with the loss of 20 crew – Israel’s involvement went unnoticed.
But a new book, Operation Israel (1976-1983), by Argentine journalist Hernan Dobry, changes that.
He reveals that Argentina was desperate for any ally that could provide essential arms and other war supplies, as the British Task Force increased pressure. The Argentine Air Force contacted Isrex Argentina – Buenos Aires representatives of Israel’s munitions factories – who were willing to help, but needed further authorisation from Tel Aviv and requested an interview with Begin.
According to Israel Lotersztain, a salesman from Isrex Argentina, Begin said: ‘You’ve come to talk badly about the British. Is this going to be used to kill the English?
‘Kadima (go ahead). Dov from up there is going to be happy with the decision. Obviously, it must be all done perfectly.’ Dov Gruner was a close friend of Begin who was captured and hanged by the British in April 1947, when Britain administered Palestine.
Gruner was a member of the Irgun, which was one of the Jewish armed groups attacking and eroding London’s grip over Palestine to ensure the birth of the state of Israel. Begin was head of Irgun.
‘He (Begin) hated the English above all,’ Mr Lotersztain said. ‘All had forgotten the British occupation, but not him.’
Colleague Jaime Weinstein said Mr Begin ‘had a deep hatred and resentment towards the British’. He added: ‘He did all that was possible to help Argentina, selling her weapons during the Malvinas conflict.’
Peru, despite trying to broker a peace deal, became the country that ‘triangled’ the supply operations, because Israel had close relations with Britain and could not appear to openly support Argentina.
Readers of this blog will know that I have always totally supported Israel in all their conflicts. So I was somewhat surprised to learn, in the pub yesterday, how Israel stabbed us in the back during our liberation of the Falkland Islands. I delved, and found this Daily Mail article dated April 2011. Hmmm…..methinks I may have to change my mind about supporting the rats!