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Israel and Nicaragua hold diplomatic and economic relations. Israel sold aircrafts and missiles to Nicaragua between in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2018 it was reported that Nicaragua purchased espionage and intelligence-gathering software from a private Israeli company.

Israel – Nicaragua Relations

Nicaragua recognized Israel in 1948, but its relationship started prior to that, as Nicaragua assisted the Haganah in purchasing weapons in Europe.[1]Evolving Relationships: Nicaragua, Israel, and the Palestinians

Nicaragua suspended relations with Israel from 1982 – 1992 because of the invasion of Lebanon, and again from 2010 – 2017 because of the Gaza flotilla raid.  Diplomatic relations between the two countries were re-established in 2017 upon the initiative of Israel, and involved extensive secret negotiations, third-party assistance, and meetings between the foreign ministers.[2]Nicaragua and Israel reestablishing diplomatic relations

In terms of trade Israel in 2019 imported $669,000 of goods from Nicaragua, with clothing, tobacco, coffee and tea being the most trade products. Nicaragua imported $5,975,000 of goods & services from Israel, with the largest categories including chemical products, pharmaceuticals, and machinery (both consumer & industrial).[3]Trade Map Israel Nicaragua

Military Relations

Israel sold arms to the Somoza regime between 1974-1978. In 1957 Israel sold Nicaragua 45 used armored vehicles confiscated from the Egyptian military in 1956, as “repayment” for Nicaragua’s prior help to the Haganah. During the period 1970-1974, the two Arava airplanes that Nicaragua purchased from Israel constituted 98% of Nicaragua’s arms imports during that period.[4]Robert Cullen. U.S. won’t attempt to prevent Israeli arms sales to Somoza // “Miami Herald”, 18 November 1978 [5]Nicaragua: Israel helps out // “Newsweek”, 20 November 1978

Israel played a much larger role in providing military supplies to the contras fighting the Sandinistas, working in coordination with the United States.  Most of these were transport or other aircraft, but in 1986/7 also included 450 surface-to-air missiles.  Israel was the main supplier of arms to the Somoza regime in Nicaragua until its fall in 1979.[6]It’s no secret: Israel’s military involvement in central America, Milton Jamali & Margo Gutierrez, 1986, p.5

There is no information about Israeli military export to Nicaragua between 2000-2022.


In 2018, Haaretz reported that private Israeli companies have sold espionage and intelligence-gathering softwares to Nicaragua.[7]Revealed: Israel’s Cyber-spy Industry Helps World Dictators Hunt Dissidents and Gays Another report suggested that Nicaragua purchased the espionage and intelligence program “Pegasus” from NSO Group, but is unclear if that is indeed the case.[8]Ortega Spies Using Israeli Technology/

Human Rights Violations

There have been human rights concerns during two main periods.  The first occurred during the Contra wars (1979 – 1990).   A 1985 report to the International Human Rights Law Group and The Washington Office on Latin America reported violations by the contras against civilians that included murder, torture, kidnappings, rape, and property destruction.[9]Nicaragua police quash opposition protest  Beginning in 1990 when the Sandinistas were in opposition and Washington support for the Contras diminished, there was a corresponding decrease in Contra violations of Human Rights, according to Human Rights Watch 1989.[10]Human Rights Watch World Report 1989 – Nicaragua  However, according to Human Rights Watch 1992 Report[11]Human Rights Watch World Report 1992 – Nicaragua, violence and human rights violations began to increase in the 1990s.  In addition, the government forces were responsible for a series of murders.

More recently in 2018, the Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega violently suppressed anti-government demonstrations with kidnappings, torture, rape, and the murder of over 300 people.[12]HRW Nicaragua Events of 2018 [13]Nicaragua: Human rights crisis demands action and accountability – UN report