Photo Credit: courtesy, Israel Police
Missile seized in suspects' production workshop

A group of Israeli nationals, including some former defense industry employees, are accused of developing, testing, manufacturing and selling advancing weaponry to a foreign client in Asia – an adversary of the United States, according to security officials.

“In recent months, as part of a joint investigation by the General Security Service (GSS/Shin Bet), Lahav 433 in the Israel Police, Malamav (in charge of security in the defense establishment) and accompanied by the economic department of the State Attorney’s Office, more than 20 Israeli citizens, including those from the defense industry, were investigated on suspicion of having carried out offenses against the security of the state, violations of the law on the supervision of security exports, money-laundering and additional economic offenses.

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In the framework of the GSS investigation it was learned that the suspects were engaged in illegally developing, manufacturing, testing and selling armed cruise missiles (loitering missiles) for a country in Asia.

During the investigation it emerged that the suspects had received instructions from elements associated with the same foreign country in exchange for payment of considerable funds as well as other benefits.

The GSS investigation shows that the connection between the suspects and elements in the same country in Asia was conducted in secret, while trying to disguise the destination of the missiles.

The investigation uncovered considerable information about the foreign elements’ work methods vis-à-vis Israelis including the use of the techniques of concealment and secrecy in carrying out the transactions and moving the merchandise.

A test of the missile that was allegedly being offered for sale by the Israeli suspects was seen on a video released Thursday for publication by Israel Police. The video shows a rocket fire experiment being conducted in the center of the country, not far from residential neighborhoods.

Communication and navigation equipment seized in the field

Communication and navigation equipment was seized in the field in the center of the country during the experiment the suspects performed. A missile was also confiscated in the suspects’ production workshop.

Communication equipment seized in the field

Defense industry officials were among dozens of Israelis who are suspected of being involved in the affair. Police have seized NIS 3 million from the bank account of the most senior suspect, although it is not known whether more money has changed hands. It is also unclear whether the group succeeded in supplying a fully developed product to the unnamed client nation, Ynet reported.

There is a gag order on most of the details of the case, including the name of the recipient country involved. The arrests were conducted under a blanket of secrecy, with the arraignments held by a judge who is a veteran of the defense establishment, and who called the allegations “extremely serious,” pointing to the massive amount of evidence collected by investigators.

“This case illustrates the potential damage to national security inherent in transactions carried out by Israeli citizens, vis-à-vis foreign parties, including the fear that this technology may spill over into countries hostile to Israel,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

“The investigation material has recently been submitted for examination to the Economic Department of the State Attorney’s Office. There is a restraining order on the other details of the investigation and the identity of the suspects.”

Initial hearings are to begin shortly.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.