Bahrain

Arms Sold:

Additional Arms:
Cyber Systems, GR12 radars, DroneGuard, F-16 upgrade

Companies:

Additional Companies:
Verint Systems (Cognyte)

Skip to:

Bahrain

Introduction

Hidden relations have existed between Israel and Bahrain since 1971. In recent years they have been coming to light, especially after the countries agreed to establish diplomatic relations in September 2020. Many official security and military meetings were conducted between Bahraini and Israeli officials. In 2021 the countries operated a joint naval drill in the Red Sea. Israel supplied different cyber technologies and training to Bahrain. In 2022 first official arms deals around radars, drones and anti-drone systems were signed.

Israel – Bahrain Relations

Relations have existed between Bahrain and Israel since Bahrain achieved independence in 1971. In recent years, relations between the two countries have been thawing and the countries agreed to establish diplomatic relations in September 2020.

In 2011, Wikileaks cables published on Haaretz revealed some of the hidden relations between Bahraini and Israeli officials. In a meeting with the U.S. ambassador in February 2005, Bahrain’s king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa had bragged about having contact with Israel’s national intelligence agency, Mossad. He indicated that Bahrain is ready to develop relations in other fields as well.[1]Haaretz Wikileaks Exclusive Bahrain King Boasted of Intelligence Ties With Israel

Israel has been conducting undercover diplomacy in Bahrain for more than a decade through a front company listed as a commercial consulting firm, reports say.[2]Israel’s secret embassy in Bahrain Israeli officials told the journalist Barak Ravid that the secret mission really did promote hundreds of business deals struck by Israeli companies in Bahrain. It also served as a secret communications channel for the Israeli government.[3]Israel’s secret embassy in Bahrain

On 11 September 2020, it was announced that Bahrain and Israel had agreed to establish full diplomatic relations. On 18 October 2020, an Israeli delegation led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat traveled to Manama, Bahrain, to sign a normalization declaration document including a MoU on Economic and Trade Cooperation.[4]Israel, Bahrain to sign document launching formal ties[5]Israel and Bahrain Sign Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic, Peaceful and Friendly Relations and Eight MOUs

In March 2021, Bahrain appointed Khaled Yousif al-Jalahma as its first ambassador to Israel. He arrived in Israel to take up his post at the end of August 2021. In September 2021, Israel’s foreign minister Yair Lapid made an official diplomatic visit and Israel opened a resident embassy in Manama.[6]First Bahraini ambassador to Israel arrives in country to take up post[7]Lapid inaugurates Israeli embassy in Bahrain

In November 2021 Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Bahrain’s Prime Minister and heir to the throne Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa at the Glasgow climate change summit in what marks the first-ever meeting between Israeli and Bahraini prime ministers.[8]In First, Bennett Meets Bahrain’s PM and India’s Modi at Glasgow Climate Summit

In February 2022 Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennet made an official visit in Bahrain, during which he held meetings with, among others, with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, his son Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, and several government ministers.

In May 2022 the Israeli embassy in Bahrain hosted a celebration of Israel’s “Independence Day”. Hundreds of Bahrainai government officials and businessmen attended the events, as well as heads of major companies from Israel’s oil and gas, cyber, fintech, high-tech and logistics sectors.[9]Israel Hosts Its First Independence Day Celebration in Gulf Region

Military Relations

In October 2019, an Israeli official, Dana Benvenisti-Gabay, attended the “Working Group on Maritime and Aviation Security” in Manama, Bahrain.[10]In rare formal visit, Israeli official attends anti-Iran conference in Bahrain

In February 2021 Bahrain’s Interior Minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa and Israel’s Public Security Minister Amir Ohana discussed a range of issues including security cooperation.[11]Bahrain, Israel discuss security cooperation

In February 2021, I24 reported that Israel was in talks with the kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in establishing a four-nation defense alliance.

In August 2021, Bahrain’s Undersecretary for International Relations Sheikh Abdullah bin Ahmad al Khalifa met an Israeli military commander – Tal Kelman, head of the Strategic Division of the IDF Planning Directorate. The talks focused on building security ties between the countries, the Israeli army said in a statement.[12]Senior Bahraini official openly meets IDF commander who handles Iran Along with meetings with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and President Isaac Herzog, Al Khalifa held meetings with major research institutions – the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, The Institute for National Security Studies and The Abba Eban Center.[13]Bahrain-Israel security collab is no secret – top diplomat

Yossi Cohn, Mossad chief, traveled to Manama in October 2020 and May 2021 and met with Adel al-Fadhil, the chief of Bahraini security apparatus, and Ahmad Abdulaziz Al Khalifa, the head of Strategic Security Agency.[14]Head of Israel’s Mossad, Yossi Cohen, visits Bahrain to discuss Mideast security[15]Bahraini-Israeli cyber and espionage cooperation: Aspects and Consequences

In October 2020 As part of an agreement between the IDEX-arms fair organizers and organizers of The Israel Defence Exhibition (ISDEF), companies from the Gulf’s defense sector will take part in ISDEF, which is scheduled to be held in Israel in March 2022.[16]Israeli arms and defense companies invited to Abu Dhabi for Middle East’s largest exhibition of its kind

In January 2022, Israel’s Minister of Defense signed a security cooperation agreement with Bahrain, and among other things it was agreed that and Israeli Army liaison officer will be stationed in Bahrain.[17]Investment and security top Bennett’s agenda in Bahrain

Arms Export

In September 2020 Elbit Systems were awarded a contract by Lockheed Martin to install HUD display units in Bahrain’s F-16 fighter jets. The deal was worth $1.9m.[18]BAHRAIN F-16 BLOCK 70 PRODUCTION

In December 2020 Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)’s Aviation Group has entered a Line Maintenance agreement with Bahrain’s airline, Gulf Air.[19]Israel Aerospace Industries and Bahrain’s Gulf Air to enter a line maintenance agreement

In February 2022 it was exposed that Israel made a deal with Bahrain to sell radars and anti-drone systems, the GR12 is developed by BATS, a subsidiary of IAI.[20]Bahrain buys Israel radars, anti-drone systems [21]IAI sells coastal radar to Bahrain – 200 km from Iran

In June 2022 the Israeli newschannel “Channel 12” reported that Israeli radar systems were deployed in Bahrain.[22]Israel Reportedly Deployed Radars to the UAE and Bahrain, Angering Iran

In July 2022 it was reported that Israel has agreed to sell drones and anti-drone systems to Bahrain. It was also exposed that the Israeli security agencies Mossad and Shin Bet have been working with Bahrain to train its intelligence officers.[23]Israel said to agree to sell Bahrain UAVs, anti-drone systems

The anti-drone system that was selected by Bahrain is the “DroneGuard” by Elta Systems, a subsidiary of IAI.[24]Bahrain draws on Israeli cyber tech

Bahrain’s Ambassador to Israel visited also the offices of Elbit in Israel in August 2022.[25]Israel to sell UAVs to Bahrain, WSJ reports

Joint Training

In November 2021 Israeli, U.S., United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahraini naval forces launched a multilateral maritime security operations exercise in the Red Sea, under the auspices of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT).[26]UAE, Bahrain, Israel and U.S. forces in first joint naval drill

In November 2021 the Israel National Cyber Directorate led an unprecedented international drill in Dubai, simulating a multinational cyber attack on the aviation industry. The event was held in the Israeli pavilion at World Expo Dubai. Participating in the event were representatives from airports, airlines, aircraft manufacturers, civilian aviation authorities, cyber authorities and cybersecurity companies from various countries, including; Israel, the United States, Germany, Greece, Morocco, Bahrain and the UAE.[27]In Dubai, Israel National Cyber Directorate simulates cyber attack on aviation sector

Cybersecurity

According to Haaretz the Israeli company Verint Systems supplied Bahrain in 2011 with systems that are typically used by monitoring centers, and with another system used for collecting information from social networks. It also reportedly trained confidants – people who seem to be members of the ruler’s extended family.[28]Revealed: Israel’s Cyber-spy Industry Helps World Dictators Hunt Dissidents and Gays

XM Cyber will cooperate with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and a new consortium set up to sign contracts with companies in the Gulf in the field of gas and oil infrastructures including Israel Electric Corp. (IEC), Energy Infrastructures and other cybersecurity companies like Waterfall Security Solutions, TrapX Security, and Radiflow. Israeli cybersecurity company XM Cyber was cofounded by former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo.[29]Former Mossad chief’s cybersecurity company to operate in Gulf

According to reports Cellebrite sold phone hacking technologies to Bahrain. Usage of the technology against human rights defenders were exposed in 2016.[30]PHONE-CRACKING CELLEBRITE SOFTWARE USED TO PROSECUTE TORTURED DISSIDENT

In June 2021 it was announced that the Israeli-American company Quali, which provides automation solutions for computer, communications and cloud infrastructures, will cooperate with Emirati company BEACON RED to develop an interoperability testing system for the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait.[31]Israel’s Quali to supply cybersecurity for government projects of Gulf states

Citizen Lab reported in August 2021 that NSO Group’s Pegasus malware successfully hacked phones of 9 nine Bahraini activists between June 2020 and February 2021. Those reportedly hacked included members of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and two political dissidents living in exile. At least one of the activists lived in London when the hacking occurred, Citizen Lab said. Citizen Lab said it has “high confidence” that at least four of the activists were hacked by the Bahraini government.[32]Bahrain used NSO spyware to target activists, says cybersecurity watchdog

In February 2022 Bahrain’s ambassador to Israel visited the premises of the Israeli cyber company “Cybergym”.[33]Bahrain draws on Israeli cyber tech

Usage of Israeli Arms

Pegasus – was used to hack phones of 9 nine Bahraini activists between June 2020 and February 2021. Those reportedly hacked included members of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and two political dissidents living in exile.[34]Bahrain used NSO spyware to target activists, says cybersecurity watchdog In 2022 it was reported that phones of Bahraini citizens who have been critical of the Bahraini Royal Family were hacked with Pegasus. Among the victims were a Bahraini lawyer, a psychiatrist and a journalist.[35]Phones of Bahraini Citizens Found Hacked With Pegasus Spyware

Verint Systems (today Cognyte) – One system was used by monitoring centers, another system used for collecting information from social networks.[36]Revealed: Israel’s Cyber-spy Industry Helps World Dictators Hunt Dissidents and Gays

UFED – was used by Bahrain against Dr. Abduljalil al-Singace, a Bahraini dissident currently serving a life sentence for his role in Bahrain’s February 2011 protests.[37]PHONE-CRACKING CELLEBRITE SOFTWARE USED TO PROSECUTE TORTURED DISSIDENT

Human Rights Violations

Many human rights organizations, among them Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have repeatedly condemned serious human rights violations by the Al-Khalifa dictatorship in Bahrain, where torture, arbitrary detention of citizens, rape, extrajudicial killings, execution of peaceful opponents and serious breaches in the human rights of women and political prisoners are, unfortunately, everyday occurrences. Nor are freedom of speech or religion safe in Bahrain, where the government tramples on them daily. It also continues to kill and maim through its involvement in the coalition headed by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

Dissidents and Human Rights Defenders

Authorities arrested, prosecuted, and harassed human rights defenders, journalists, opposition leaders, and defense lawyers, including for their social media activity. All independent Bahraini media have been banned since 2017 from operating in the country and all opposition groups dissolved.[38]Bahrain: Events of 2020

Thirteen prominent dissidents have been serving lengthy prison terms since their arrest in 2011 for their roles in pro-democracy demonstrations. In 2020, Bahrain escalated its suppression of online and social media activity and prosecuted several public figures solely for their posts on social media. Foreign journalists rarely have access to Bahrain, and Human Rights Watch and other rights groups are routinely denied access. International wire services, when they cover Bahrain, do so from Dubai or elsewhere outside the country. As to 2021 Six journalists were imprisoned.[39]Bahrain: Events of 2020

Prison Conditions

Health and hygiene conditions in Bahrain’s overcrowded prisons remained extremely serious in 2021. Although Bahrain released 1,486 prisoners in March due to the health risk posed by Covid-19, the releases have excluded opposition leaders, activists, journalists, and human rights defenders—many of whom are older and/or suffer from underlying medical conditions.[40]Bahrain: Events of 2020

Gender Equality

Bahraini family laws discriminate against women’s right to divorce, inherit, and transmit Bahraini nationality to their children on an equal basis to men, and deprive their children of the right to obtain citizenship on an equal basis with children of Bahraini men.[41]Bahrain: Events of 2020

Bahrain’s penal code criminalizes adultery and sexual relations outside marriage, a violation of the right to privacy, which disproportionately harms women and migrant women. Although no law explicitly criminalizes same-sex relations, authorities have used vague penal code provisions against “indecency” and “immorality” to target sexual and gender minorities.[42]Bahrain: Events of 2020

In a report published in December 2021 by Bahrain Forum for Human Rights, the group recorded human rights violations committed by the Al Khalifah regime in late September and October 2021 against Bahrainis who opposed normalization with Israel.[43]Rights group rebukes Bahrain for targeting opponents of normalization with Israel

References
1 Haaretz Wikileaks Exclusive Bahrain King Boasted of Intelligence Ties With Israel
2 Israel’s secret embassy in Bahrain
3 Israel’s secret embassy in Bahrain
4 Israel, Bahrain to sign document launching formal ties
5 Israel and Bahrain Sign Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic, Peaceful and Friendly Relations and Eight MOUs
6 First Bahraini ambassador to Israel arrives in country to take up post
7 Lapid inaugurates Israeli embassy in Bahrain
8 In First, Bennett Meets Bahrain’s PM and India’s Modi at Glasgow Climate Summit
9 Israel Hosts Its First Independence Day Celebration in Gulf Region
10 In rare formal visit, Israeli official attends anti-Iran conference in Bahrain
11 Bahrain, Israel discuss security cooperation
12 Senior Bahraini official openly meets IDF commander who handles Iran
13 Bahrain-Israel security collab is no secret – top diplomat
14 Head of Israel’s Mossad, Yossi Cohen, visits Bahrain to discuss Mideast security
15 Bahraini-Israeli cyber and espionage cooperation: Aspects and Consequences
16 Israeli arms and defense companies invited to Abu Dhabi for Middle East’s largest exhibition of its kind
17 Investment and security top Bennett’s agenda in Bahrain
18 BAHRAIN F-16 BLOCK 70 PRODUCTION
19 Israel Aerospace Industries and Bahrain’s Gulf Air to enter a line maintenance agreement
20 Bahrain buys Israel radars, anti-drone systems
21 IAI sells coastal radar to Bahrain – 200 km from Iran
22 Israel Reportedly Deployed Radars to the UAE and Bahrain, Angering Iran
23 Israel said to agree to sell Bahrain UAVs, anti-drone systems
24 Bahrain draws on Israeli cyber tech
25 Israel to sell UAVs to Bahrain, WSJ reports
26 UAE, Bahrain, Israel and U.S. forces in first joint naval drill
27 In Dubai, Israel National Cyber Directorate simulates cyber attack on aviation sector
28 Revealed: Israel’s Cyber-spy Industry Helps World Dictators Hunt Dissidents and Gays
29 Former Mossad chief’s cybersecurity company to operate in Gulf
30 PHONE-CRACKING CELLEBRITE SOFTWARE USED TO PROSECUTE TORTURED DISSIDENT
31 Israel’s Quali to supply cybersecurity for government projects of Gulf states
32 Bahrain used NSO spyware to target activists, says cybersecurity watchdog
33 Bahrain draws on Israeli cyber tech
34 Bahrain used NSO spyware to target activists, says cybersecurity watchdog
35 Phones of Bahraini Citizens Found Hacked With Pegasus Spyware
36 Revealed: Israel’s Cyber-spy Industry Helps World Dictators Hunt Dissidents and Gays
37 PHONE-CRACKING CELLEBRITE SOFTWARE USED TO PROSECUTE TORTURED DISSIDENT
38 Bahrain: Events of 2020
39 Bahrain: Events of 2020
40 Bahrain: Events of 2020
41 Bahrain: Events of 2020
42 Bahrain: Events of 2020
43 Rights group rebukes Bahrain for targeting opponents of normalization with Israel