Do Israeli arms sales to Colombia end after ties cut?

President Gustavo Petro accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza and declared a diplomatic rift, however, just as with Brazil, where the president accused Israel in a similar manner, behind the scenes, arms deals with Israeli industries worth hundreds of millions of dollars are still inked
Yuval Azulay|
Colombian President Gustavo Petro's announcement last week about severing diplomatic relations with Israel comes against the backdrop of extensive and longstanding ties between Colombian military branches and Israeli security industries.
About a year and a half ago, Colombia's Air Force signed a deal worth around $130 million with Israel's aerospace industry to purchase Barak MX missiles for air defense system upgrades, set to be delivered by 2026. Concurrently, the Colombian army inked a deal with Elbit Systems for roughly $100 million to acquire ATMOS self-propelled howitzers, capable of firing shells over 40 kilometers, to be delivered by the decade's end.
2 View gallery
נשיא קולומביה גוסטבו פטרו
נשיא קולומביה גוסטבו פטרו
Colombian President Gustavo Petro
(Photo: Reuters)
In recent years, Colombia has also procured weaponry from Rafael, primarily anti-tank Spike missiles for its Black Hawk helicopters used by its air force. Even before that, it received remote-controlled weapon stations mounted on armored vehicles from Israel.
These significant transactions are part of a series of Israeli security industry deals with Colombia over recent decades. Notably, in the late 1980s, Israel Aerospace Industries sold around 20 Kfir combat aircraft to the Colombian Air Force after retiring them from service in the Israeli Air Force.
These aircraft underwent refurbishment and upgrades at the company's Lahav plant before being sold to Colombia at a bargain price, estimated at around $20 million per aircraft. About 20 years ago, Colombia purchased another 13 aircraft from Israel Aerospace Industries and further upgraded its fleet of older Kfir aircraft.
The upgrades included adapting the aircraft for in-flight refueling and updating avionics and ECM systems. Alongside these transactions, Colombia also bought a Boeing 767-based aerial refueling aircraft from Israel Aerospace Industries for around $60 million.
The Israeli Kfir aircraft still serve in Colombia's Air Force, although in recent years, it has sought to replace them with more advanced aircraft, facing budget constraints in advancing this initiative.
2 View gallery
מטוס כפיר של סרי לנקה
מטוס כפיר של סרי לנקה
Kfir aircraft
(Photo: Wikipedia)
According to economic experts in Israel, President Petro's statement about severing diplomatic ties with Colombia isn't expected to impact deals already signed with Israeli industries directly. "They want Israeli weapon systems because they're good, not because Colombia is a branch of the Zionist movement. Just because President Petro said what he said doesn't mean we're facing a new reality with Colombia," noted one of the economic factors.
He added, "Israeli industries can continue doing business with Colombia even if there are no diplomatic relations between the countries. Israel has sold weapons to countries worldwide under much more complicated circumstances."
Apart from the security deals at stake, some already transferred to Israeli-owned companies, civil trade between the two countries isn't significant. In 2022, Israeli exports to Colombia totaled around $140 million and in 2023, around $110 million, mainly in fintech, cyber, electrical machinery, chemical products, medical equipment, and rubber. Colombian imports to Israel, focused on food and agriculture, amounted to around $15 million in 2023.
<< Follow Ynetnews on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok >>
The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.