'Israel funded Argentina in Falklands war'

By Anshel Pfeffer, April 28, 2011
Strike: The British destroyer HMS Sheffield after being hit by Argentine jets.

Strike: The British destroyer HMS Sheffield after being hit by Argentine jets.

A new book claims the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin supported emergency arms shipments to the Argentine military at the height of the Falklands War.

It is claimed that Mr Begin's supposed hatred of the British from his days fighting the pre-independence mandate led to the move.

Operation Israel, by Argentine journalist Hernan Dobry, details the close military relations between Israel and Argentina during the years of the military dictatorship in the South American country from the 1960s to 1982.

Among the weaponry Israel sold to the Argentine Air Force were "Dagger" fighter jets, manufactured by Israel Aircraft Industries. According to the book, these sales intensified during the months leading up to the British attack on Argentine forces, following the occupation of the Falkland Islands in April 1982.

Mr Dobry alleges that the equipment Argentina gained from Israel was mainly destined for the jets, including air-to-air missiles, warning systems and larger fuel tanks.

Israeli PM Menachem Begin

Israeli PM Menachem Begin

He claims to have interviewed an official in an Israeli export company who was involved in the deals and who alleges that Mr Begin encouraged the sales when he heard they would be used to kill British soldiers.

The Israeli Defence Ministry, which regulates and authorises all sales of military hardware abroad, declined to comment on the book. But one senior official said it was "highly unlikely that in the months of the Falklands War, when Israel was preparing the invasion of Lebanon, anyone in the defence establishment, and certainly not the prime minister, would have the time or resources to organise emergency arms supplies for faraway Argentina".

Herzl Makov, director of the Begin Heritage Centre in Jerusalem, said the publication was "a distortion of historical reality", adding: "Mr Begin's relations with British prime ministers James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher were excellent and warm."

Last updated: 1:19pm, April 8 2013