DECEMBER 9, 2022
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Investigative Report Exposes France's Role in Supplying Weapons Equipment to Israel

Investigative Report Exposes France's Role in Supplying Weapons Equipment to Israel

An investigative report by the French non-profit media outlet Disclose revealed on June 17 that France approved the sale of weapons equipment used by Israel to bomb civilian targets. Dozens of classified documents obtained by the outlet disclosed that the Thales Group, a French IT company in which France owns a 26 percent stake, recently delivered electronic components used to construct Israel's Hermes 900 armed drones.

The documents identify the equipment as the TSC 4000 IFF transponder, classified by the French armed forces ministry as "surveillance, target tracking, and reconnaissance systems." These systems enable drones to avoid collisions and prevent friendly fire incidents. According to Disclose, "At least eight of these transponders were supposed to be flown to Israel between December 2023 and the end of May 2024. Two transponders were delivered in 2024, while the other six were reportedly stopped by French customs."

The report claims that Israel used these French-supplied components to strike civilian targets. Disclose quotes the head of Israel's Squadron 166, which operates Hermes 900 assault drones, as admitting to targeting a hospital in Khan Yunis in February following the delivery of the surveillance and targeting equipment.

Disclose argues that the sale of these components highlights the French state's lack of transparency regarding arms sales, despite official claims of oversight. In February, French Minister Sebastien Lecornu stated that equipment exported to Israel consisted of basic components rather than weapons, adding that the interministerial commission overseeing arms exports, the CIEEMG, closely monitors such sales. However, the minister did not mention the Thales sale or government approval for the delivery of parts used to manufacture ammunition for Israeli machine guns.

The French armed forces ministry's Directorate General for International Relations indicated that the TSC 4000 IFF transponders are not permitted to be "sold, gifted, leased nor transformed without the prior agreement of the French government."

In a related development, France lifted a ban on Israeli weapons manufacturers attending the Paris international arms exhibition, Eurosatory 2024. Paris' Commercial Court ruled the ban discriminatory, following an appeal by Israel after a French court had enacted the ban under pressure from pro-Palestinian groups protesting Israel's invasion of Rafah.

Additionally, reports earlier in June revealed that other Western powers, including the U.S. and UK, have aided Israel's drone fleet in committing various crimes in Gaza, such as the Nuseirat refugee camp massacre, by providing intelligence for operations.

This exposé by Disclose underscores the complex and controversial nature of international arms sales and the involvement of Western nations in the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

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