Israel – Colombia Relations:


Colombia recognized the State of Israel in 1949.  The two countries have an extensive trading relationship, facilitated by a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed in June 2013. This was ratified by the Congress of the Republic in June 2017, although it is awaiting review by the Constitutional Court.  The agreement states that 100% of the commercial exchange in both countries for the year 2024 will be free of customs duties.[1] 

Total trade between the two countries in 2016 was $103 million ($88.9million imports; 15.2 million exports); this does not include Colombian sales of coal to Israel[2] which, in 2015, amounted to 89% of Colombian exports.[3]

Military Relations:


Military ties with Colombia began in the late 1970s and expanded significantly in the 1980s. This included 3 Arava planes in the 80’s, 28 Kfir fighter jets between 1989 and 2017, missiles, bombs, and much more.[4] This involved not only the sale of arms & other war material, but also Israel’s involvement in the formation and training of armies and paramilitary groups which were responsible for serious violations of the human rights of civilians in Colombia.[5]  Contracts were made despite the fact that an audit by the National Audit Office in 2000 of one of the earlier contracts with IAI found “inconsistencies and absence of control mechanisms”.[6] During the period 1950-2018, Colombia was the 10th largest importer of weaponry from Israel; from 2010-2018, the fourth largest.[7]

Colombia also joined a technological development project between the Colombian Air Force, the US company Sikorsky and the Israeli companies IAI and Rafael for the production of the Arpia III and IV artillery helicopters, which began to be deployed for operation within the internal armed conflict in May of the 2002.[8] In addition, by 2013, Colombian armed forces had at least 50 drones in operation for surveillance, including in 2012 four Hermes drones from the Israeli Elbit Systems,[9] followed by the purchase of two more Israeli drones the following year.[10]

Since 2003, The Bilateral Working Group, a Political and Military Dialogue between the two countries, has worked on cybersecurity issues, along with issues such as “rehabilitation of those injured in combat, military education, protection of critical infrastructure, and joint research and development”.[11]

Usage of Israeli Arms:


There is evidence that the Israeli drones along with Kfir planes have been used to repress peasant populations, flying overhead during demonstrations.[12]

Verint Systems: set up the Puma interception system for the Colombian National Police. The Israeli company NICE Systems expanded the interception capacity of this technology to be carried out on a large scale.[13]

Curacao:   A Colombian company through which Verint has sold its Vantage & Rlian data collection products, which also served to constitute the Integral Digital Recording System of the Colombian National Police.[14] Journalists were captured in the following years in these interception rooms.[15]

Cellebrite: a technology company founded in Israel that sells forensic services and markets its cybersecurity and intelligence products to Colombia.[16]  Its forensic tool allows police and research departments to immediately extract vital information from a cell phone found at a crime scene.[17] This company’s technology has been used to carry out illegal searches on citizens ‘phones in Michigan[18], and has been sold to governments that have violated citizens’ rights such as those of the Arab Emirates, Turkey or Russia[19].

In addition, Global CST Ldt., headed by former Israeli army general Israel Ziv, offers training and consultancy in intelligence and security-related fields, and has been training the Colombian army. Global CST and Ziv appear to have played a role in freeing Ingrid Betancourt, who had been held hostage by FARC[20].

Human Rights Violations:


The human rights history of this country has been marked by political violence, absence of due process, and at times a general lawlessness that has made it perpetually unstable. Coupled with Colombia’s domestic problems, U.S. involvement in its ‘war on drugs’ has exacerbated the situations that already were at a boiling point. With an ongoing power struggle between the government, the military and the drug lords, it is no exaggeration to describe Colombia as in a constant state of war. All activists and marginalized people are under steady attack from all sides as they strive to secure for themselves and for their country a safe and peaceful future.

The 52-year armed conflict between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government officially ended with a peace accord in 2016. Despite an initial overall decline, conflict-related violence has taken new forms and serious abuses continue. Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, particularly in rural areas, bear the brunt of ongoing violence and repression[21].

In 2019, civilians in affected parts of the country suffered serious abuses at the hands of National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas, FARC dissidents, and paramilitary successor groups. Human rights defenders, journalists, indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, and other community activists have faced death threats and violence. The government has taken insufficient steps to protect them. Violence associated with the conflicts has forcibly displaced more than 8.1 million Colombians since 1985. Impunity for past abuses, barriers to land restitution for displaced people, limits on reproductive rights, and extreme poverty and isolation faced by indigenous communities remain important human rights concerns in Colombia.

As of September 2019, the Attorney General’s Office had opened over 2,000 investigations on alleged unlawful killings by army personnel from 2002 through 2008. Between those years army brigades across Colombia routinely executed civilians in what are known as “false positive” killings[22].

Situation of Human Rights Defenders:

In 2019, OHCHR documented 108 killings of human rights defenders, including 15 women and two LGBTI defenders[23].  Attacks on human rights defenders had already intensified during 2018, when 115 killings were confirmed by the UN Human Rights Office in Colombia[24].  The killings of female human rights defenders increased by almost 50 per cent in 2019 compared to 2018[25].

Sales Records Table:

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1. ^

2. ^ World Bank;  

3. ^ CELAG; Lo que dejó con “seguridad” la visita de Netanyahu; September 2017;

4. ^

5. ^ International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN); “El papel de Israel en la represión mundial”; December 2012;

6. ^ Padilla, Nelson Fredy; La conexión israelí; August del 2009;

7. ^

8. ^ Fuerza Aerea Colombiana; El Arpía III, insignia de la Fuerza Aérea Colombiana;

9. ^ Rachel Glickhouse;Explainer: Drones in Latin America August 2013;

10. ^ Ídem

11. ^ Ministerio de Defensa de Colombia; Memorias del ministro al gobierno, 2014-2015;

12. ^ Asociación Campesina del Catatumbo – Ascamcat ; Gobierno de Colombia: ¿El campesinado del Catatumbo es un objetivo de ataque militar? / Martes 30 de July de 2013,

13. ^ Privacy International; Demanda y oferta: la industria de la vigilancia al descubierto; July del 2015;

14. ^ Contrato de venta  29 FR 2011,

15. ^ El Espectador; Sobre las “chuzadas” y la Policía; December del 2015,

16. ^ En Colombia lo tiene tanto la Policía como la Fiscalía. Procesos FGN-IPSE-040-2016 NC, PN DIASE SA 006-2014, se pueden consultar en: Asi mismo es utilizado por empresas privadas como Adalid:

17. ^ Poder PDA; Cellebrite: Transferencias de Datos e Investigación Forense; April 2011;

18. ^ Heussner Ki Mae; Michigan Police Use Device to Download Cellphone Data; ACLU Objects; April 2011;

19. ^ Cox Joseph, Cellebrite Sold Phone Hacking Tech to Repressive Regimes, Data Suggests; January 2017,

20. ^Hareetz; Israelis Contributed to Daring Colombian Hostage Rescue

21. ^

22. ^

23. ^

24. ^

25. ^


Israel provided Côte d’Ivoire aid in fields of military, agriculture and health since 1962. After a civil war broke out in Côte d’Ivoire in 200 and despite an international arms-embargo there is evidence, that Israeli arms and equipment was supplied to the country. Among others, drones, rifles, night vision devices and surveillance technology were supplied to Côte d’Ivoire between 2003-2020 and was used in two civil wars resulting with the death of around 5,000 people.

In 1962 the two countries signed a cooperation agreement and exchanged ambassadors. Israel provided aid, primarily in the form of technical expertise, to the Ivoirian military and to the agricultural, tourism, and banking sectors. After being stopped in 1973, Côte d’Ivoire president Félix Houphouët-Boigny announced the resumption of diplomatic relations in 1986.

In 2012, Alassane Ouattara, current President of Côte d’Ivoire, made an official visit to Israel.[1] some sources reported that Ouattara’s visit was also linked to security concerns. Faced with attempts at destabilization in the West and deprived of the support of Nicolas Sarkozy, the Ivorian president was reportedly seeking a strategic rapprochement with Israel.[2]

In 2016 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Côte d’Ivoire Foreign Minister Dr. Abdallah Albert Toikeusse Mabri, during his visit in Israel. [3] In 2019 Israeli and Ivorian entrepreneurs met in Tel Aviv for a first bilateral economic summit aimed at strengthening and developing relations between the two countries.[4]

Israel exports to Côte d’Ivoire was $8.33 million during 2018, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.[5]

According to European Union data, between 200,000 and 300,000 people in the Côte d’Ivoire make a living from the country’s diamond trade, which amounts to between 50,000 and 300,000 carats annually. Since the late 1990s, the Côte d’Ivoire has experienced extreme political instability, with one coup in 1999, and two civil wars raging between 2002 and 2007, and during 2010-2011. In 2005 The political and social unrest has led the UN to impose a decade-long ban on rough diamonds originating from the country. The ban was lifted in 2014.[6] A United Nations report from 2009 on trade in “blood diamonds” – rough stones whose sale is used to fund conflicts – raises the possibility that an Israeli company active in Liberia and Ramat Gan was dealing in diamonds whose proceeds are used to support rebels in the Côte d’Ivoire.[7]

Israel sold weapons to the Ivoirian government between 2002-2003, according to a report by Amnesty International.[8] In 2004, during a civil war in Côte d’Ivoire, the UN declared an arms-embargo on the country. Despite the embargo there is evidence, that Israeli arms and equipment was supplied to the Côte d’Ivoire after the declaration.

In 2005 after demanding the Israel Foreign and Defense ministries to stop exporting weapons from Israel to the Ivory Coast, the French government demanded information on companies selling arms to the Côte d’Ivoire, where a civil war was raging. The demand, which indirectly placed responsibility on Israeli companies for the death of French soldiers on a peace-keeping mission, was apparently raised by the French Embassy’s military attaché or a representative of its intelligence agencies in talks with Defense Ministry officials.[9] According to a Haaretz report, among the Israeli companies involved in weapons sales to the Côte d’Ivoire were Aeronautics Defense Systems, which in 2003 sold 2 Aerostar UAVs to the country and sent personnel to maintain them. The drones were delivered in 2004. The French said their soldiers were killed when drones and surveillance systems assisted the Côte d’Ivoire air force in attacking a base where they were stationed.[10] [11] In 2008, Côte d’Ivoire’s president Laurent Gbagbo said in an interview that Côte d’Ivoire purchased the Israeli drones for the purpose of surveillance.[12]

Different reports show that private Israeli businessmen were involved in different arms deals; Israeli arms dealer Moshe Rothschild sold aircraft, parts and ammunition purchased in Eastern Europe; and Israeli businessman Hezi Betzalel sold surveillance systems manufactured by the Israeli company, Verint Systems.[13] [14]

In 2016 A report of the UN Security Council on Côte d’Ivoire said Israeli companies violated the UN arms embargo on the West-African nation. According to the report, “violations of the arms embargo have involved small arms, heavy weapons and related ammunition”.[15] Also the import of night vision equipment by an Israeli company named Troya Tech Defense was mentioned. During routine inspections of ports in Côte d’Ivoire shipments of night-vision goggles and infrared thermal imaging devices were found in 2015.[16]

In 2020 visual evidence showed Ivorian special forces troops training with a variety of weapons, including Tavor rifles from Israeli company IWI.[17]

In 2018 the research organization Citizen Lab published that they found evidence of the surveillance malware Pegasus, being operated in Côte d’Ivoire.[18] The controversial spyware Pegasus was developed by the Israeli company NSO Group. Anderson Diédri, a reporter who worked on reporting in Côte d’Ivoire as part of the West Africa Leaks, an international corruption investigation, says that Pegasus’s presence in the country constitutes an “unacceptable threat to the freedom of the press, especially investigative journalism.”[19]

Tavor rifles: 3rd Airborne Unit of the Côte d’Ivoire Special Forces[20].

Aerostar drones:  were reportedly being used by Ivorian military forces.

Pegasus: was used in Côte d’Ivoire

Civil wars:

The first Ivorian civil war began in 2002. A failed coup fueled unrest and ignited civil war, leaving the country divided into the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south. Peacekeeping troops from France, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and later the United Nations (UN) created a buffer zone, known as the “zone of confidence,” between the rebels, known as the New Forces, and the Ivoirian government troops. In 2004 the already volatile situation worsened when French peacekeeping troops were accidentally killed in one of the Ivoirian bombing raids, prompting retaliatory bombing by France that in turn resulted in anti-French demonstrations and the looting and burning of French businesses, schools, and residences. In response to the escalating situation, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Côte d’Ivoire in an attempt to stem the influx of weapons into the region. In April 2005 peace talks held in South Africa led to a new cease-fire agreement between the Ivoirian government and the rebels, with all parties declaring an end to the war. More than 1,500 people died in the war.

In 2011 when a new crisis Ivory Coast escalated into full-scale military conflict between forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, the President of Ivory Coast since 2000, and supporters of the internationally recognized president-elect Alassane Ouattara. After months of unsuccessful negotiations and sporadic violence between supporters of the two sides, the crisis entered a critical stage as Ouattara’s forces seized control of most of the country with the help of the UN, with Gbagbo entrenched in Abidjan, the country’s largest city. International organizations have reported numerous instances of human rights violations by both sides, in particular in the city of Duékoué where Ouattara’s forces killed hundreds of people. Overall casualties of the war are estimated around 3000. Nearly 700,000 Ivorians were displaced. The UN and French forces took military action, with the stated objective to protect their forces and civilians. France’s forces arrested Gbagbo at his residence on 11 April 2011.  [21] [22]  He faced four charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and persecution in the International Criminal Court.[23] [24]

Arms Transfers During Civil Wars:

Angola, China, Belarus, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Israel sold weapons to the Ivoirian government between 2002 and 2003, according to an Amnesty International report. A 2004 UN arms embargo did little to halt the flow of weapons into the country, according to the report.[25] Spending on military hardware eventually climbed to more than 10 percent of the Côte d’Ivoire’s national budget in 2004-05.[26] Arms received both before and after the embargo went into effect were used during Ivory Coast’s 2010-11 post-election conflict.[27] [28]

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking in Ivory Coast is a long-standing problem. Although the country is used for domestic and international trafficking of children and adults, domestic trafficking of children is most prevalent. [29]Child labor in the cocoa industry is widespread, with children brought in from surrounding countries to work in poor conditions on the plantations.[30]


Journalists, human rights defenders, activists and opposition members faced arbitrary arrests, detention and deportations for expressing dissent in 2019 and 2020. Peaceful demonstrations were dispersed with the use of excessive force by security forces. On 4 October 2019, security forces killed one person and injured several others when they opened fire on protesters in Djébonoua against the arrest of an opposition politician.[31]

Côte d’Ivoire’s National Human Rights Council reported on 10th of November 2020 that 55 people were killed and 282 injured between October 31 and November 10 in the political and intercommunal violence that accompanied presidential elections. Security forces failed to adequately protect civilians and in at least one case used excessive force to disperse opposition-led protests, shooting dead at least two demonstrators and beating a man unconscious. President Alassane Ouattara was re-elected for a third term with a reported 94 percent of the vote in the controversial election, which the main opposition parties boycotted. The poll triggered confrontations between opposition and government supporters in the capital, Abidjan, and at least eight other towns, resulting in brutal street clashes fought with machetes, clubs, and hunting rifles. Since the election, Ivorian authorities have arrested a dozen opposition party members, who rejected the results and said they had formed a National Transitional Council to organize new elections.[32]

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Deal Size
2 Aerostar drones
Aeronautics Defense Systems
2003 (2004)
night vision equipment
Troya Tech Defense
inclduing night vision goggles and infrared thermal imaging devices