Israel sold weapons to Argentina that were used to bomb British soldiers during the height of the Falklands War in 1982, newly declassified documents from the British Foreign Office show.
Among Israel’s military exports to the Argentine military were Skyhawk jets, which killed dozens of British troops in the conflict, the British daily The Telegraph reported Wednesday, citing the documents.
The Falklands War lasted 10 weeks between April and June 1982, after Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands off its coast in an attempt to wrest them from British control. The U.K. successfully repelled Argentine forces and retained the islands, which had been British colonies since the early 19th century. Over 600 Argentines and more than 250 British soldiers were killed in the fighting.
The declassified British documents state that after initially denying its involvement in the war, Israel by 1984 had admitted that it supplied Argentina with arms to sustain its weapons industry. The Jewish state also reasoned that Britain at the time was arming Israel’s enemies throughout the Middle East.
“Israel was one of the few countries to supply Argentina with arms during the Falklands conflict,” C.W. Long, then-head of the Near East and North Africa department of the U.K.’s Foreign Office, said in a 1984 memo, according to the Telegraph report.
A document dated Nov. 16, 1984 shows that then-British Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe personally asked the Israeli government to refrain from selling arms to Argentina.
“I do not believe the Israelis are to be moved on this issue,” Long said in the document.
The British documents say that Israel was also selling weapons to Argentina before and after the conflict. Haaretz reported that Israel’s arms exports to the Argentinian junta, or military government in charge of the country between 1976 and 1983, were estimated at approximately $700 million.