Indo-Israel Clandestine Links


By Malveer K. Hussain

India recognized Israeli state in 1950 but the regional and international scenarios as well as considerations prevented any formal diplomatic relations between the two countries. At that time, India was the member of the Non-Aligned Movement working for anti-colonial struggles, an ally of Soviet Russia. India was also extremely in favour of Palestinian Independence.

But at the end of the Cold War that brought the downfall of Soviet Russia, India instantly re-evaluated its foreign policy. To please the sole super power in the world as well as to safeguard its own strategic interests, New Delhi took a “U” turn in its foreign policy by ending India’s sympathies for USSR and started full fledged diplomatic interaction with Tel Aviv during the tenure of Narasimda Rao in January 1992. India believed that enhancement in ties with Israel would have an optimistic and constructive impact on the US temperament towards India. On the other hand, isolated Tel Aviv considered New Delhi as a significant strategic assistant in Asia. J.N.Dixit then India’s foreign secretary openly acknowledged:

“What have Arabs given us, if I may ask? Did they vote for us in Kashmir issue? Were they supportive of us when we had the East Pakistan crisis in 1971? “

Interestingly, the apparent absence of diplomatic relations didn’t inhibit India from seeking Israeli assistance in defense fields. Both countries were covertly pursuing cooperation in military fields long before the official contacts. During Indian-Sino conflict in 1962, Indian PM Nehru corresponded with Israeli counterpart Ben Gurion about Indian apprehension; Tel Aviv immediately showed sympathy and provided weapons to New Delhi. Similarly Indian PM Shastri approached Tel Aviv for military assistance in Pak-Indo war of 1965. Israel again helped India and supplied heavy mortars and ammunition to Indian army.

Then in 1971 Pak-Indo war, Israel extended full support to India by providing devastating arms, ammunition and other weaponry. Both Indo-Israeli intelligence agencies RAW and Mossad played crucial role in the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971. It all remained undercover, none of them officially acknowledged this secret cooperation. In “Inside RAW: The Story of India’s Secret Service” Asoka Raina uncovered the ugly face of India’s Research and Analysis wing (RAW):

“RAW promoted dissatisfaction against Pakistan in East Pakistan, including funding Mujib ur Rehman, providing training and arming the Mukti Bahini.”

Indian politician Subramanian Swamy further exposed the Indo-Israeli partnership during 1971:

“In the 1971 Bangladesh war, of all persons, D.P.Dhar organized certain crucial weapons import from Israel.”

Worried about an “Islamic Bomb”, India and Israel discussed an Osiraq type pre-emptive strike against Pakistan’s nuclear installations at Kahuta in the 1980s, which turned out to be nothing but an unfulfilled dream for them. Then Israel helped India in 1998 Indian Nuclear explosions at Pokharan, by supplying various apparatus and devices for simultaneous tests. In Kargil Conflict 1999, India was provided with massive military intelligence as well as sophisticated UAVs with necessary equipments by Israel against Pakistan.

Over the years, the Indo-Israeli relationship has undergone radical changes; as both states are enjoying diplomatic, economic ties and silently discussing defense and strategic spheres. Soon after the week long high profile visit of Israeli President Ezer Weizmann during December 1996 in India, the collaboration in the military field has significantly improved.

Israel offered a lengthy list of military hardware as well as advanced technological inputs to India and becomes the second largest defense supplier for India. The Indian purchase of sophisticated Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance, Automated maneuvering combat instrumentation (ACMI, an outstanding training gadget for combat pilots), border monitoring system, Electronic support sensors and advanced night vision equipments showed the enhanced relations of both the states. Israel also decided to give Phalcon Airborne Warning and Controlling Systems (AWACS) surveillance aircraft to India. Both countries are also cooperating in space programmes such as India launched an advanced Israeli defense satellite into orbit in 2008 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre. This satellite helped Israel in spying over Syria, Iran and Lebanon.

Moreover India sensed that there are specific fields which could be valuable and advantageous from the skilled Israeli side of expertise. Such as the up gradation of T-72 Tanks, MIG-21s (the main stay of Indian Air Force), MIG-27s, including the advanced radar system and multi-functional technique (for weapons handling ability), electronic avionics, ballistic calculations along with Laser guided bombs. Missile technology is another field in which India is interested and has purchased Barak-1 (surface to air SAM missiles, can intercept Harpoon anti ship cruise missile) from Israel.

Besides this, India and Israel are cooperating in naval patrol. In recent times, Israeli strategic think tanks perceive the Indian Ocean (IO) as the foremost tactical as well as strategic area and see India as a significant international performer. Israel has considered the IO as a logistical route to eastern countries, because of hostile Arab neighbors’ blocked land routes. On the other hand, India is also pleased and satisfied with Israel’s escalating strategic participation in the IO, because India is concerned about China. Thus as a naval cooperation, Israel helped India in the up-gradation of naval patrol aircrafts, fast attack patrol boats and KA-25 anti submarine helicopters. Also, Israel’s new submarines equipped with launching capacity of nuclear warheads, long-range cruise missiles tested in Indian Ocean. It’s a perception on Israeli side that the intensifying strategic necessity is the improvement of sea-borne sub marine based nuclear second strike capability, which is only effective from IO.

Both countries have carried out joint military exercises. India has sent Indian soldiers to Israel for specialized new techniques and anti-insurgency training which Indian Special Forces applied in Indian held Kashmir to curb the resistance of Kashmiris. This sort of Indo-Israeli beneficial partnership has been approved by US for mutual deeper strategic gains and interests, for instance to counter-act growing China, escalating instability in West Asia, increasing pressure on Syria, Lebanon, Iran and to minimize the international influence of Saudi Arabia. Then they want to reduce the leverage of China in Central Asian states and have an eye over the oil and gas of that region.

Afghanistan is a specific strategic region from where India-Israel under American umbrella, are covertly working together to encircle Pakistan for their own geo-strategic interests. Pakistan’s growing missile technologies, nuclear capability, and intelligence agency ISI are great concerns for both India and Israel. The Indo-Israel’s foremost agenda is the destabilization and then denuclearization of Pakistan. Their intelligence agencies RAW and Mossad are pursuing covert operations in different parts of Pakistan especially in Tribal areas and Balochistan. RAW-Mossad have been pushing their trained agents/terrorists into Pakistani territory from Afghanistan to conduct bomb attacks, sectarian violence, target killings, assaults on security forces, propaganda and psychological warfare throughout the Pakistan.

This creates sensitive dimensions in South Asian region directly posing a real threat to Pakistan’s security.

Malveer K. Hussain is an analyst specializing in geostrategic history and current affairs. She can be reached at: malveerkhussain@gmail.com

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One Response to “Indo-Israel Clandestine Links”

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