Israel Defense Forces captured a “massive” stash of Chinese weapons used by terrorists in Gaza, Israeli news outlet N12 reported on Saturday.
According to Carice Witte, CEO and founder of SIGNAL Group and an expert on China-Israel relations, it is unlikely that the Chinese weapons were bought directly from Beijing.
“China has an extensive arms industry,” Witte said. “By definition, it does not sell weapons to non-state entities, it certainly does sell weapons to countries in the [Middle East].”
Witte explained that third countries or illegal sales by independent Chinese actors could be the reason the Chinese weapons were in the hands of Hamas in Gaza.
“Trade relations between China and Middle Eastern nations are well known, even with those sanctioned by the West,” she added. ”It is not impossible that such weaponry ends up in the wrong hands.”
Israel “must check the issue with official Chinese authorities,” Witte emphasized.
China has close relations with Iran, which is behind terror proxies that are currently attacking Israel and destabilizing the Middle East – Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and other players.
In March 2021, China and Iran signed a 25-year comprehensive economic and security partnership that was implemented the following year, in January 2022. Part of the agreement between the two countries involved the Iranian regime receiving $400 billion worth of Chinese investments over the next 25 years.
According to The Iran Primer, published by the United States Institute of Peace, the China-Iran agreement was to include “more cooperation on training and research, defense industries, military joint ventures like coproduction of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, and strategic collaboration, as well as the exchange of experience on asymmetric warfare, anti-terrorism and combating drug trafficking.
China is Iran’s largest trading partner and has been for the past two decades or so, with the total volume of trade between the two nations totaling some $20 billion.
When the China-Iran agreement was signed in 2021, Amos Yadlin, Israel’s former IDF chief of military intelligence and head of the Institute for National Security Studies, expressed concern over the military and security aspects of the two nations forming close ties.
“One of the most worrying clauses in the agreement between Iran and China is the intelligence sharing,” Yadlin warned.
“China is putting itself in a place that, until today, it had not been before. On a fundamental level, China opposes an Iranian nuclear bomb but, on the other hand, it is not helping to stop Iran. Iran, too, needs the political support, which China has to stop the United States from pressuring it. The Chinese understand that the Biden administration is not the Trump administration, and they can be much more aggressive.”
It is not clear if Hamas was in possession of Chinese weaponry because of the Iran-China agreement because the Asian giant sells weapons to a multitude of countries in the Middle East, with the key importers being Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, according to the Institute for National Security Studies.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.