Rwanda

Arms Sold:

Additional Arms:
Lynx MRL, ATMOS-2000, Ti-67S, LAR-160, Uzi

Companies:

Additional Companies:
IMI, IWI, Soltam Systems, Cybertech

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Rwanda

Introduction

There have been unconfirmed reports of Israeli weapons sales and training to Rwanda beginning in 1990. It is believed that Israel supplied weapons to the Hutus who committed that genocide but Israel’s Supreme Court denied a request to release information regarding Israel’s role in the genocide. Today Israel and Rwanda hold close security relations, mostly around cyber-security technologies. There is evidence that Rwanda used Israeli spyware against as many as 3500 politicians, activists and journalists, both inside & outside the country.

Rwanda – Israel Relations

Israel and Rwanda established diplomatic ties in 1962, soon after Rwanda gained independence. These ties included the signing of an agreement for technical cooperation, which generated some small joint projects. Diplomatic relations were severed in 1973, following the Yom Kippur War, but resumed in October 1994. Rwanda sent its first ambassador to Tel Aviv in late 1994 but was forced to close its mission a few years after for budgetary reasons. The embassy was reopened in 2015, with a resident ambassador.[1]Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice In 2019 Israel opened an embassy in Kigali, Rwanda.[2]Israel boosts East African links with new Rwanda embassy

The two countries have developed a bond as a result of their experiences with genocide.  In 2021 Israel exports to Rwanda totaled US$36.95 million, the largest category of which involved electronic equipment.[3]TRADING ECONOMICS Israel Exports to Rwanda In return Rwanda exported only US$ 55 thousand, the largest category of which was machinery.[4]TRADING ECONOMICS Israel Exports to Rwanda  Rwanda has provided value in other ways, however, such as accepting asylum seekers forcibly expelled by Israel, allegedly for $5,000 each.[5]Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice  Although there is no evidence this is a quid pro quo for weapons sales, Rwanda does seem to view Israel as an asset in regards to security matters.[6]Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice  In return, Rwanda facilitates Israel’s relationship with other African nations.[7]Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice [8]Rwanda’s Kagame to arrive for two-day visit to Israel

Diplomatic exchanges have been regular in the past ten years, including two by Avigdor Liberman, both as Foreign Minister in 2014, and Defense Minister in 2018, and visits by Kagame & Netanyahu to each other’s countries.[9]Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice [10]Rwanda’s Kagame to arrive for two-day visit to Israel  Rwanda has shown greater sympathy in the UN primarily by abstaining from UN votes involving Palestinian issues[11]UN resolution Palestine, despite having recognized Palestine in 1989[12]Palestine UN Diplomatic Relations, but has denied that the close relations between the countries are responsible.[13]Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice

Military Relations

There have been unconfirmed reports of Israeli weapons sales and training to Rwanda beginning in 1990[14]Israel is one of the countries that exports arms to Rwanda or even as early as 1968.[15]How Israel helped prop up Rwanda’s Hutu regime before the genocide It is believed that Israel supplied weapons to the Hutus who committed that genocide as well as to Paul Kagame’s rebel army, possibly beginning in 1973 and continuing even when news of the ongoing generation was publicized.[16]Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice [17]Israel uses spyware, weapons and agritech to buy influence in Africa/ [18]BROKERING ARMS FOR GENOCIDE [19]How Israel helped prop up Rwanda’s Hutu regime before the genocide [20]The Israeli Guns That Took Part in the Rwanda Genocide In 2016, Israel’s Supreme Court denied a request to release information regarding Israel’s role in the genocide.[21]Records of Israeli arms sales during Rwandan genocide to remain sealed/

More recently, Israel has provided training to Rwanda regarding border security & fighting Jihadists.[22]Israel and Rwanda, Partners in Persecution [23]rwanda israel to jointly fight terrorism maintain border security

Cyber-Security

There is evidence that Rwanda has purchased and has been using Pegasus Spyware [24]Pegasus Project: Rwandan authorities chose thousands of activists, journalists and politicians to target with NSO spyware against as many as 3500 politicians, activists and journalists, both inside & outside the country. [25]South Africa’s Ramaphosa listed as Rwanda spyware target [26]HRW World Report 2022 Rwanda

In 2018 a Rwandan delegation participated in an international cyber convening of the Israeli Army in Yehud, Israel.[27]The IDF hosted its first international digital and cyber convention

In 2020 Israel and Rwanda signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which seeks to boost Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and innovation sector. Some of the specific areas that the MoU will advance include telecommunication, cybersecurity, space technology and artificial intelligence.[28]Rwanda, Israel sign agreement to boost ICT, innovation

The Rwandan government announced in 2020 the establishment of a technology center of excellence (CoE) in the fields of digitalization and artificial intelligence. The new center is operated under a joint venture between Elbit Systems and the subsidiary of Ngali Holdings – Locus Dynamics Ltd.[29]Elbit establishes technology center in Rwanda

In 2022 the Israeli company Cybertech organized a cyber-fair in Kigali, Rwanda, called “Cybertech Africa”.[30]Cybertech to Hold First Event in Africa

Usage of Israeli Arms

Pegasus – There is evidence that Rwanda has purchased and has been using Pegasus Spyware against as many as 3500 politicians, activists and journalists, both inside & outside the country. [31]South Africa’s Ramaphosa listed as Rwanda spyware target [32]HRW World Report 2022 Rwanda [33]Pegasus Project: Rwandan authorities chose thousands of activists, journalists and politicians to target with NSO spyware

LAR-160 – in use by Rwanda Defence Force.[34]Rwanda exercises new ATMOS 2000 howitzers/

Tavor Assault Rifles – [35]The Jazz Singer: IWI Tavor Review/

Uzi machine guns – In use by Rwanda Defence Force.[36]Jones, Richard D. Jane’s Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane’s Information Group; 35th edition (January 27, 2009)

Ti-67 Tiran – In use by Rwanda Defence Force.[37]Rwanda exercises new ATMOS 2000 howitzers/

Atmos-2000 – In use by Rwanda Defence Force.[38]Rwanda exercises new ATMOS 2000 howitzers/

Human Rights Violations

Although the 1994 genocide continues to cast a shadow over Rwanda, a number of key players have been held accountable for their actions. In general, however, present-day Rwanda is notable for repression of political dissent and limits on free speech, especially as it relates to media accounts critical of the government.  Opposition figures and media have experienced threats, criminal charges and imprisonment.  It is believed that the government has targeted as many as 3500 individuals with the Pegasus spyware program purchased from Israel’s NSO group.  This includes Rwandans living outside the country, some of whom appear to have been “disappeared” or killed.[39]HRW World Report – Rwanda 2022

Human Rights organizations give Rwanda a mixed review for its handling of covid.  Amnesty praised its prompt lockdowns, free testing and treatment.[40]Amnesty RWANDA HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS However, both Amnesty & Human Rights Watch criticized the arbitrary detentions which accompanied alleged violation of the lockdowns.  Detention often occurred in facilities with limited covid protections.[41]HRW World Report – Rwanda 2022 [42]Amnesty RWANDA HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS

Rwanda has made some movement towards improved human rights in several areas, including children’s and women’s rights, as well as greater accountability for excessive police force.[43]Amnesty RWANDA HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS  Human Rights Watch has described Rwanda’s improvements in social and economic development during the period leading up to 2015 as “impressive”.[44]HRW World Report 2015: Rwanda Events of 2014  Nevertheless, the various governmental controls continue to limit the development of a healthy civil society & media necessary for overall social & political development.[45]HRW World Report – Rwanda 2022

References
1 Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice
2 Israel boosts East African links with new Rwanda embassy
3 TRADING ECONOMICS Israel Exports to Rwanda
4 TRADING ECONOMICS Israel Exports to Rwanda
5 Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice
6 Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice
7 Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice
8 Rwanda’s Kagame to arrive for two-day visit to Israel
9 Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice
10 Rwanda’s Kagame to arrive for two-day visit to Israel
11 UN resolution Palestine
12 Palestine UN Diplomatic Relations
13 Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice
14 Israel is one of the countries that exports arms to Rwanda
15 How Israel helped prop up Rwanda’s Hutu regime before the genocide
16 Israel and Rwanda’s Emerging Alliance: A Mutual Strategic Choice
17 Israel uses spyware, weapons and agritech to buy influence in Africa/
18 BROKERING ARMS FOR GENOCIDE
19 How Israel helped prop up Rwanda’s Hutu regime before the genocide
20 The Israeli Guns That Took Part in the Rwanda Genocide
21 Records of Israeli arms sales during Rwandan genocide to remain sealed/
22 Israel and Rwanda, Partners in Persecution
23 rwanda israel to jointly fight terrorism maintain border security
24 Pegasus Project: Rwandan authorities chose thousands of activists, journalists and politicians to target with NSO spyware
25 South Africa’s Ramaphosa listed as Rwanda spyware target
26 HRW World Report 2022 Rwanda
27 The IDF hosted its first international digital and cyber convention
28 Rwanda, Israel sign agreement to boost ICT, innovation
29 Elbit establishes technology center in Rwanda
30 Cybertech to Hold First Event in Africa
31 South Africa’s Ramaphosa listed as Rwanda spyware target
32 HRW World Report 2022 Rwanda
33 Pegasus Project: Rwandan authorities chose thousands of activists, journalists and politicians to target with NSO spyware
34 Rwanda exercises new ATMOS 2000 howitzers/
35 The Jazz Singer: IWI Tavor Review/
36 Jones, Richard D. Jane’s Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane’s Information Group; 35th edition (January 27, 2009
37 Rwanda exercises new ATMOS 2000 howitzers/
38 Rwanda exercises new ATMOS 2000 howitzers/
39 HRW World Report – Rwanda 2022
40 Amnesty RWANDA HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS
41 HRW World Report – Rwanda 2022
42 Amnesty RWANDA HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS
43 Amnesty RWANDA HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS
44 HRW World Report 2015: Rwanda Events of 2014
45 HRW World Report – Rwanda 2022