What rifles does the Israeli army use?

Israel and Germany

Marcel Serr

To person

M.A., born 1984; Historian and political scientist, PhD at the University of Haifa on the subject of the adaptability and learning capacity of the Israeli armed forces; research assistant at the German Evangelical Institute for Classical Studies in the Holy Land, P.O. Box 18463, 91184 Jerusalem / Israel. [email protected]

At the end of September 2014, the arrival of the "INS Tanin" was celebrated in the port of Haifa. This was the fourth Dolphin-class submarine produced in Germany to enter service in the Israeli Navy. Two more are to follow in the next few years. In return, the Bundeswehr has leased Israeli drones for use in Afghanistan and has German soldiers trained in urban warfare by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). [1] These are current examples of arms cooperation between Germany and Israel. However, the cooperation between the two states in this sensitive policy area has a long and partly mysterious history - it began around ten years in front the formal establishment of diplomatic relations in 1965.


German-Israeli armaments cooperation began in the 1950s. The young Jewish state was faced with a hostile Arab neighborhood and was desperately looking for military equipment for the IDF, which was still under construction. The Federal Republic seemed to be a reliable partner for this. The policy of the first Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was characterized by a moral obligation towards Israel. After the conclusion of the Luxembourg Agreement in 1952 [2] there were therefore cautious attempts at rapprochement between the two states in the field of armaments. Israel acquired it in the early 1950s Dual use-Goods from Germany - goods that can be used in both the civil and military sectors (e.g. vehicle chains). The first major arms deal in 1956/57 comprised two patrol boats from the Bremer Jacht & Bootswerft Burmester, which were an important part of the Israeli Navy until the 1980s. [3]

The intensification of bilateral arms cooperation is primarily due to Shimon Peres, then Director General in the Israeli Defense Ministry, and the then Federal Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss. In the winter of 1957 the first conspiratorial meeting took place in Strauss's private house in Rott am Inn. Peres had landed incognito in Paris before, rented the smallest car he could find and set off for Upper Bavaria via icy, misty streets. During the adventurous journey, not only did the car heating fail, but Peres got lost shortly before his destination. Discreetly he tried to ask for directions and, with the unpredictable comment, "Oh, you want to see Defense Minister Strauss!" shown the way. Finally arrived, the meeting marked the beginning of a secret but close cooperation between the defense ministries of Germany and Israel. [4]

Even in the initial phase, it was by no means a one-way street. The cooperation with Israel was also of relevance for the Federal Republic in terms of security policy: Bonn urgently needed intelligence about the weapons systems of the Soviet Union. Israel was the perfect source of information for this, because its Arab neighbors were primarily supplied from Moscow's arsenals. After the Suez Crisis in 1956, Israel's military made captured Soviet weapons technology available to the Germans. In addition, Israel supplied ammunition, uniforms and, above all, the famous Israeli Uzi submachine gun to the Bundeswehr. [5]

In Israel, such deals with Germany were initially viewed critically. When ammunition exports to Germany became known in the summer of 1959, a storm of indignation broke out in the Knesset. Israel's Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, however, made it unmistakably clear: "Only idiots and political charlatans (...) cannot see that it would damage Israel's position in the world, its future and perhaps even its existence if we were to become a great power, its political and political forces economic weight is constantly increasing, making it an enemy and leaving it to the Arabs as allies. (...) And I see no moral, emotional or other obstacles to this, just as I do not accept a moral or emotional prohibition on talks with England, although England used to be Jewish has driven its national borders - I don't know any nation in the world that hasn't done that. Adenauer is not Hitler. "[6]

From 1962 the armaments cooperation was expanded. Up until now, mainly surplus and discarded German war material was shipped to Israel (including trucks and anti-tank missiles), but the following arms deliveries focused on large-scale military equipment. Israel's wish list included speedboats, submarines, howitzers, helicopters, transport aircraft, tanks and anti-aircraft guns with a total value of DM 240 million. [7] In August 1962, Adenauer gave the go-ahead for the deliveries, which were to be carried out with the utmost secrecy in order not to anger the Arab states. The number of initiates was kept as small as possible. The delivery of the weapon systems also had to be covered up. [8] Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss reported on adventurous methods: "We secretly fetched the devices and weapons promised to Israel from the Bundeswehr depots and then reported theft to the police in some cases as a diversionary maneuver." [9] Not everything went smoothly: M-48 -Tanks destined for Israel got stuck in a tunnel on the train to Italy. Israel was quite satisfied with the arms deliveries - Shimon Peres remarked: "The quality was excellent and the volume considerable - compared to what we were used to (...). For the first time, the poor Israeli army, with its meager stocks, felt like it was had to skimp to the utmost, almost spoiled. "[10]