Israel sold Duterte guns for deadly Philippines drug war
An Israeli weapons manufacturer sold hundreds of assault rifles to anti-drug police in the Philippines, months after controversial President Rodrigo Duterte said he would be happy to "slaughter" three million drug addicts while comparing himself to Adolf Hitler.
Duterte launched a deadly war on drugs shortly after coming to power in June 2016. Since then authorities claim 4,354 alleged drug users and dealers have been killed in police operations.
However, human rights groups and critics say the true number of dead is at least triple that. They say the killing could amount to crimes against humanity.
The sale of assault rifles to anti-drug police was one of several by Israel Weapons Industries (IWI), based in Ramat HaSharon.
The company won a tender last year to supply 560 Galil basic assault rifles to the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Israeli based television channel i24NEWS reported.
IWI also secured two tenders to supply 1,920 pistols and 313 assault rifles to the Philippines National Police (PNP) at the height of Duterte's bloody crackdown, according to procurement documents obtained by i24NEWS.
The Israeli government green-lighted the deals via its defence export control system.
IWI won the tender to supply Galil Ace assault rifles in June 2017, by which time thousands had already been killed in Duterte's drug war.
The sales were made just months after Duterte compared himself to Hitler in comments which caused international alarm and outrage.
"Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts [in the Philippines]. I'd be happy to slaughter them," Duterte said in September 2016.
More than six million Jews were killed by the Nazis before and during the second world war.
Weeks after those controversial comments, the Philippines president announced that he planned to purchase all of his country's military equipment from Israel.
"Given this incontrovertible fact that the PNP and PDEA are involved in mass human rights violations related to the drug war, this deal selling firearms cannot be interpreted as anything else than an endorsement of this human rights catastrophe," Carlos Conde, the Philippines researcher at Human Rights Watch, told i24NEWS.
Duterte is reportedly due to visit Israel in September.