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Israel orders 20,000 locally produced M-4 rifles in bid to increase self-reliance

IDF is concerned about lack of weapons independence, especially from US

Israeli reserve soldiers holding M4 and Tabor rifles, on Oct. 12, 2023. (Photo: Michael Giladi/Flash90)

The Israeli Ministry of Defense has published a tender for the production of 20,000 made-in-Israel M-4 rifles, Ynet News reported on Thursday.

The tender is the first of its kind in Israel, requiring manufacturers to guarantee a minimum of 51% of weapon components are produced domestically, with the entire assembly process completed within Israel.

“The IDF wants to ensure that it doesn’t get stuck because of a screw that some country decides not to send us, in addition to its desire to encourage the local industry to expand its production capacity,” an industry official told Ynet.

Shortly after the war against Hamas began last October, the Defense Ministry purchased 9,000 Tabor weapons that were produced in Israel.

The Ministry of Defense has since pursued a policy of increasing manufacturing independence for critical military products after Israel was caught with a lack of stocks and had difficulties in quickly purchasing equipment in the world in light of the arms race since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Until today, the IDF and other Israeli security forces have purchased M-16-type rifles like the M-4 from the United States, which is widely used by the IDF.

However, the global munitions shortage and the ongoing rift with the Biden administration have led to increasing concerns that Israel is too dependent on weapons deliveries from outside the country.

“Israel has become overly dependent on American arms in particular,” an Israeli opinion columnist and former advisor to Netanyahu Caroline Glick recently told the Wall Street Journal.

“The nature of our relationship has to change from that of a client state and a sponsor to a partnership. I think it’s better for both sides.”

A recent poll by the Israeli Democracy Institute (IDI) found that 64% of right-leaning citizens say Israel should act only according to the judgment of its own leadership, while among Israel'a political left and center, 82.5% and 64.5% respectively, support coordination with the Biden administration.

So far, the IDF has mostly purchased its rifles from the U.S. by using American military aid funding that totals around $4 billion annually, which also helped Israel with regular arms shipments since Oct. 7.

However, an unnamed Israeli official recently claimed that the U.S. had slowed down its deliveries of ammunition and other critical military supplies to Israel amid the growing rift between the two governments, which the Biden administration denied.

In February, a Dutch court ruled that The Netherlands must end deliveries of components for Israeli F-35 fighter jets.

In addition, Canada’s recent declaration of an arms embargo raised concerns in the Israeli government that other, more nations may soon follow suit.

U.S. military aid was among the main topics of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s recent visit to the U.S., who reportedly brought a list of specific requests for weapon systems, including short-term requests for the war in Gaza, as well as long-term requests like the additional purchase of F-35 and F-15 fighter jets.

Meanwhile, the discussion about the importance of increasing weapons independence is spreading across Israel’s political spectrum.

Einat Wilf, a former Member of Knesset for the Labor party, recently agreed with a post by Glick on 𝕏, arguing that Israel should cancel the order for additional F-35 planes because it didn’t suit its needs and created an increased dependency on the U.S.

“As someone who asked a lot of questions regarding the F-35 deal in the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee 13 years ago, I will point out that there is actually a kernel for an important discussion here that should have been held a long time ago, regarding how the IDF was adapted to Israeli challenges and needs versus how it was adapted to the needs of the American arms industry,” Wilf wrote.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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