Menachem Begin. Never forgot the British occupation
Photo: Government Press Office

Book: Begin armed Argentina during Falklands War

New book claims late prime minister sent weapons to avenge death of Dov Gruner, who was hanged by British Mandatory Authorities in 1947

Israel secretly supplied Argentina with weapons and equipment during the Falklands War due to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin's animosity towards the British, a new book written by an Argentinean journalist claims.


The Telegraph reported that according to the book - "Operation Israel: the rearming of Argentina during the dictatorship (1976/1983)" - Israel sent air-to -air missiles, radar systems, fuel tanks and gas masks to Peru in 1982, which were later transferred to Argentina.


Argentine author Hernan Dobry claims that Begin agreed to the deal in order to avenge the death of his good friend Dov Gruner, who was executed by British Mandatory Authorities in 1947.


Gruner, an Etzel (The Irgun) member, was hung after attacking a Ramat Gan police station.


In 1982, The Argentinean army invaded the Falklands islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean, in an attempt to seize control over them after 100 years of British rule.


According to the book, Argentina's air force asked an Israeli defense company, Isrex, for help. A meeting was then arranged between representatives of the company and Begin.


'Dov would have been happy'

Begin agreed to cooperate against Britain fairly quickly, saying: "You've come to talk badly about the British. Is this going to be used to kill the English? Go ahead. Dov up there is going to be happy with the decision. Obviously, it must be all done perfectly."


Israel Lotersztain, a former salesman for Isrex Argentina who was present in the meeting, said: "He hated the British above anything else. Everyone had forgotten the British occupation, but not him."


His colleague Jaime Weinstein agreed, saying: "He did all that was possible to help Argentina."


But the deal was not easy to carry out. Israel needed a third party to get involved so Britain would not know it was aiding Argentina. Then Peruvian President Fernando Belaunde Therry, gave Israel the green light to transfer equipment to the country's capital Lima and the main port Callao. From there the shipment was secretly flown to Buenos Aires.


"The task was to support them in everything we could, and there was no problem to sign a purchase order," said a senior Peruvian officer.


The British, as it turns out, were fully aware of Israel's role. The book claims British intelligence tracked and photographed the planes landing in Peru.


"They were aware of the whole operation to the extent that sometimes when we discussed whether some supplies had arrived we would say, 'let's ask the English,'" said Lotersztain.


He added that the British ambassador in Israel even presented Begin with an incriminating photo showing the loading of arms on to an Aerolineas Argentinas plane.


Israel's fuel tanks were vital for Argentina's war effort, enabling pilots to fly to the Falklands and return home without stopping for fuel along the way.


However, after about 70 days of combat Britain won the war and continues to control the islands today.



פרסום ראשון: 04.21.11, 10:01
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