Petition Demands Israel Stop Doing Business With Philippines

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during their meeting in Yerushalayim, Sept. 3, 2018. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool Photo)

Attorneys representing what they said was a large group of petitioners have filed a lawsuit with the High Court against the state, demanding that it refrain from selling arms, weapons systems and military defense systems to the Philippines. The lawsuit says that Israel had no business doing business with the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, who is “a mass murderer, supports violence against women, has bombed the schools of minority children, and has equated himself with Hitler.” As a country that violates human rights, Israel should not be exporting weapons to the country, the lawsuit says.

Duterte visited Israel in September, in a visit that was protested by leftist and human rights groups. During the visit, Duterte discussed new weapons purchases from Israel, following up on $21 million of radar and anti-tank systems to Philippines. According to i24 News, Israel Weapons Industries (IWI) has sold firearms to the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for use in what it called “Duterte’s deadly crackdown on illicit drugs.”

According to the lawsuit, that crackdown has cost the lives of 12,000 people. “Most of the soldiers involved wear black masks and attack poor neighborhoods, arresting men and boys and killing them on the spot,” the lawsuit says. “The international community has remained silent on this.” The weapons being ordered by the Philippines were clearly military in nature, and were being used against innocent people, it said.

The state has not yet responded to the lawsuit. In a statement on the occasion of Duterte’s September visit, the Foreign Ministry said that Israel “assigns great importance to this visit, which symbolizes the strong, warm ties between our ‎two peoples. ‎Cooperation between the two countries is thriving. In diplomacy, it is expressed in public ‎statements by the leadership in Manila as well as in issues important to Israel in the ‎international arena.”