Israel and Kenya have been keeping close diplomatic, economic, and military relations since 1963. Israel sold Kenya a considerable number of arms and military know-how. Hundreds of Kenyan soldiers have received training by Israel. An agreement on Cooperation in Public Security Issues exists between the countries and they are cooperating closely in fields of counterterrorism and cyber security. Israeli security and intelligence agencies set up a special command center in Nairobi and there are reports of Israeli surveillance systems being used by Kenya against citizens, protestors, and opposition leaders.
Israel – Kenya Relations
The countries established diplomatic relations in December 1963. Israel was the first country to build its embassy in Kenya, just days before Kenya’s independence. Israel has an embassy in Nairobi. Kenya has an embassy in Tel Aviv.
In December 1963, Golda Meir, then Israeli minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Kenya. in 1966 Israel’s Prime Minister Levi Eshkol followed.Sid Israel : Israel-Kenya Relationship In 2009 Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. visited Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda. In 2011, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga visited Israel for 6 days. In February 2016 Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta visited Israel and met Prime Minister Netanyahu, the two leaders signed a joint statement focusing on water and agricultural issues, promoting cooperation and establishing a joint bilateral committee. Their delegations discussed in another meeting bilateral cooperation on issues including security, counter-terrorism, cyber and agriculture.Palestinians slam Kenyan president for visiting Western Wall, West Bank
On 8 July 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded an East Africa tour, which included Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda.Israeli Penetration into East Africa Objectives and Risks Kenya and Israel concluded agreements in the fields of health and immigration, in addition to a agreement signed between the two nations in the field of agriculture and irrigation.Israeli Penetration into East Africa Objectives and Risks In 2017 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu flew to Kenya for a one-day trip.Israel’s International Relations: Cooperation with Africa
Israel opened an Economic and Trade Commission in Kenya in 2019.Israel Trade Missions In Kenya Sid Israel : Israel-Kenya Relationship Trade between the two countries was $139 million in 2012, 8.0 percent of Israel’s trade with Africa.
In the economic and commercial fields, meanwhile, thousands of Israelis work in significant economic centres in East Africa – there are nearly 100 companies in Kenya owned by Israelis.Sid Israel : Israel-Kenya Relationship especially in the areas of trade, agricultural management and project services. In these areas, Israeli companies monopolise many of the economic activities in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, as is demonstrated by the number of Israeli companies working in the region. In particular, the Israeli company, Solel Boneh, works in the construction sector, establishing air and seaports and constructing residential and government buildings.Israeli Penetration into East Africa Objectives and Risks
The historical height of Israeli-Kenyan cooperation occurred during Operation Entebbe in 1976. The Mossad operated a station in Kenya, and while the Israeli government was plotting the Entebbe rescue mission, it relied heavily on Kenya. One of Kenya’s government officials, Scottish- born Bruce McKenzie, was considered a friend to the Mossad.A history of cooperation between Israel and Kenya After an attack in an Israeli Hotel in the beginning of the 2000s Israel and Kenya strengthened their military and security relations significantly.Shifts in Israel-Africa Relations
Kenya has been a customer of Israeli Military Industries (IMI). Israel sold Kenya a considerable amount of arms and military know-how. Hundreds of Kenyan soldiers have received training in combating terrorism in Israel or were trained in Kenya by official or semi-official Israeli instructors.Israelis Aid to End Nairobi Siege | Kenya, Israel’s Forward Base in Africa In 2009 Negev light machine guns and Galil sniper rifles were documented in Kenya.Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa The Israeli company Tandu Technologies and Security systems published on their website that the company trained Kenyan soldiers in the usage of SOLTAM mortars.SECURITY AND DEFENSE TRAINING COURSES/
In early 2010 Kenya was reportedly interested in buying weapons from Israel to counter what the Kenyan Internal Security Minister, George Sai toti, characterized as an Islamist threat originating in Somalia.Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa In the same year the commander of the Kenyan armed forces visited Israel to ‘strengthen the military cooperation between the two countries and examine a possible cooperation with the Israeli Defense Industries’.Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa Later in 2010 the Israeli Minister for Public Security, Yitzhak Aharonovich, paid a visit to Kenya and mentioned Kenya as a ‘critical ally’ and promised ‘much more support on the war against terrorism’, particularly on the border with Somalia. In September 2010, the heads of the Kenyan police and anti-terror unit also visited an Israeli company specializing in surveillance systems to look at ‘new technologies’.Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa
In 2011, Israel and Kenya concluded the Agreement on Cooperation in Public Security Issues.Israel, Kenya sign anti-terror, anti-crime pact Israel Targets East Africa With Kenya Security Pact
In the same year it was reported that Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) conducted flight demonstrations of the Heron drone in Kenya.IAI reportedly promoting Heron UAV in Angola and Kenya Different organizations and media platforms reported that Israeli companies sold UAV systems to East-African countries, Kenya being one of them, without further details about which drone was purchased and delivered.Israel grapples with blowback from booming drone industry Israel and the Drone Wars : Examining Israel’s production, use and proliferation of UAVs
In 2013, during an attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi Israeli forces quickly intervened in support of Kenyan troops to regain control of the mall. Israeli security advisers were dispatched to help Kenyan forces.Israel’s ties with Kenya go back a long way Israeli Penetration into East Africa Objectives and Risks East African countries, especially Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda, have become bases for Israeli intelligence services, provided with the latest monitoring devices.Israeli Penetration into East Africa Objectives and Risks
In 2015 media reported that Kenyan police, aided by intelligence, equipment and training from Israel and the UK, have assassinated nearly 500 terrorism suspects as part of an extrajudicial killing program.Israel, UK aiding Kenya assassinations of terrorism suspects: report
Following Netanyahu’s visit in 2016, it was announced that Kenya would be working with Israeli counter-terrorism officials to build a 440-mile wall along its border with Somalia, to prevent the spread of terrorism.Israel will help Kenya build a wall to keep out terrorists
In 2016, Israeli counterterrorism and intelligence agencies set up a special command center in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa. Israel has successfully led Kenyan operations against the Al Qaeda cells embedded in eastern and southern Kenya. Israel has trained the Elite guards that protect VIPs in Africa.
In 2019 media reported that that Israeli commando forces trained local forces in more than a dozen African nations, including Kenya. Aviezer Segal, Israel’s military attaché to Africa said that they were mostly being trained in Krav Maga, shooting skills and hostage rescue situations.Israel’s diplomatic thrust into Africa spearheaded by military training
During a meeting of the Joint Trade Committee (JTC) the Israeli government has pledged to help Kenya implement World Bank projects, among them cyber security.Israel to help Kenya fight cyber crime
A new report by CitizenLab names Kenya as one of the African countries that have been employing surveilling platforms by the Israeli company Circles to access telephone calls, SMS messages and location services of citizens, protestors, and opposition leaders. Circles is said to be affiliated with Tel-Aviv based NSO Group.More African countries are relying on an Israeli surveillance tool to snoop on private citizens Running in Circles Uncovering the Clients of Cyberespionage Firm Circles
In 2019 the Israeli embassy in Nairobi hosted an event about cooperation in Cyber with Kenya.Israel Trade Missions In Kenya : Promoting Cyber Cooperation with Kenya In September 2020 the Israel Trade Mission in Kenya organized an Event about homeland security and cyber challenges with the participation of the director of counter terrorism of the East African Police Chiefs organization, members of the Kenya Cyber Security Association and head of Information Security at the ICT Authority of Kenya.Israel Trade Missions In Kenya : East Africa’s Experience, Challenges, Gaps & amp; Opportunities
The Israeli company ThinkCyber together with Kenyan company Modcom Institute of Technology conducted cyber security trainings in Kenya.TRIPLEP CYBER SECURITY EXPERTS, INVESTING IN EDUCATION & CAPACITY BUILDING Also, the Israeli cyber company Senpai provided cyber-hacking tools and surveillance services to Kenya.Israeli Cyber Startup Senpai Helped Malaysia’s Corrupt Leader Spy on Opposition
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID) used mobile off-the-air interception devices between 2010-2011, provided by Israeli tech company Verint Systems. Kenyan officers tasked with procurement travelled abroad as guests of Verint Systems’ Israel office and to trade fairs, according to documents seen by Privacy International.Track, Capture, Kill: Inside Communications Surveillance and Counterterrorism in Kenya
Usage of Israeli Arms
Negev Machine Gun – used by Kenya Defense Forces, first documentation from 2009.Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa
Galil Rifle – used by Kenya Defense Forces, first documentation from 2009.Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa
Panhard AML-90 armoured vehicle – upgraded by Israel in 2007, in use by Kenya Defense Forces.Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa
TCM-20 artillery – In use by Artillery Battalion of Kenya Defense Forces.International Institute for Strategic Studies (2021). The Military Balance. p. 472.
Human Rights Violations
After the presidential elections in 2007 political and ethnic violence followed, which resulted in more than 1,000 deaths and the displacement of hundreds of thousands.Amnesty Kenya 2021 report HRW World Report 2015 – Kenya
Reports by HRW show that Kenyan security forces were implicated in extrajudicial killings, torture, disappearances, and arbitrary detentions, particularly during counterterrorism operations in Nairobi, Mombasa and rarely faced investigations or prosecutions.HRW World Report 2015 – Kenya The Kenyan government’s counterterrorism operations have been particularly brutal and disproportionate. Security services arrested at least 4,000 majority ethnic Somali Kenyans in during Usalama Watch, a police operation “to curb the rising spate of terrorist attacks in the country.”Amnesty : Somalis are scapegoats in Kenya’s counter-terror crackdown Republic of Kenya : National Police Service Commission Scores of Kenyan citizens – most of them male, many of them Muslim – have been killed or ‘disappeared’ at the hands of Kenya’s police in what is being called an epidemic of extrajudicial killings.Extrajudicial killings an epidemic, Haki Africa says, details 81 cases Domestic and international human rights groups as well as the constitutionally mandated Kenya National Commission on Human Rights have highlighted the role of the Police General Services Unit (GSU) and the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU), in particular.
Kenya’s violations of the human rights of Somali refugees and asylum-seekers are putting thousands of lives in risk. Somalis fleeing violence in their homeland fail to find refuge in overcrowded and dangerous refugee camps, where they live in “open prisons” due to restrictions on their movements. Somali refugees and asylum-seekers in Kenya are vulnerable to official mistreatment and forcible return to Somalia, where they face the risk of grave human rights abuses.
In 2017 Privacy International published a report about techniques, tools and culture of Kenyan police and intelligence agencies’ communications surveillance practices. The Report shows serious human rights abuses such as torture, extrajudicial killings and disappearances that have allegedly resulted from these surveillance techniques and practices. According to the report, “One in three Kenyans has been subject to ill treatment at the hands of the police … police officers killed 122 persons in the first eight months of 2016.” The report also alleges that the Kenya government has, among other things, targeted and deregistered 500 civil society groups, frozen the bank accounts of Muslim human rights groups, and “overtly questioned whether its critics support ‘the Kenyan people or terrorist groups.’” Also, according to the report, several lawyers and media professionals and have disappeared under suspicious circumstances.Track, Capture, Kill: Inside Communications Surveillance and Counterterrorism in Kenya