Citing World Court, Japan Firm Cuts Ties with Israel Arms Maker

ASIA--PACIFIC, 12 Feb 2024

Ali Abunimah | Electronic Intifada – TRANSCEND Media Service

Palestinian children examine an unexploded Israeli bomb in Deir al-Balah, southern Gaza, on 1 January. Tel Aviv’s genocide depends on weapons supplied by other countries.  Naaman Omar APA images

7 Feb 2024 – A major Japanese industrial conglomerate is cutting ties with Israeli arms maker Elbit, citing the International Court of Justice ruling that Israel may be committing genocide in Gaza.

Itochu Corporation said its aviation division would terminate its partnership with Elbit by the end of February.

Tsuyoshi Hachimura, Itochu’s chief financial officer, said that his company’s partnership with Elbit was “based on a request from the Japan’s defense ministry for the purpose of importing defense equipment for the Self-Defense Forces necessary for Japan’s security, and is not in any way related to the current conflict between Israel and Palestine.”

But the decision to end the relationship clearly is.

“Taking into consideration the International Court of Justice’s order on 26 January, and that the Japanese government supports the role of the Court, we have already suspended new activities related to the MOU [memorandum of understanding], and plan to end the MOU by the end of February,” Hachimura added.

The deal signed less than a year ago was hailed at the time by Israel’s ambassador in Tokyo as evidence of the “deepening relations between Israel and Japan, relations that are based on mutual interests and shared values.”

Action against Israel in Belgium, Spain and Switzerland

This is one of the first signs that the ICJ decision is already prompting companies and governments to cut ties with Israel – perhaps fearing that they too could become legally implicated in genocide.

This week the government of Wallonia, one of Belgium’s three federal regions, suspended arms export licenses to Israel, also citing the ICJ decision.

Separately, Palestine Action said it had forced Switzerland-based global logistics giant Kuehne+Nagel to end its ties with Elbit.

“In an email to Palestine Action, transportation giant Kuehne+Nagel (K+N) declared they’ve ended all ties with Israel’s largest weapons firm, Elbit Systems, and will not be working with them again in the future,” the activist group announced last week.

“This victory comes after a direct action campaign by Palestine Action, which first involved activists from Palestine Action breaking into the K+N’s Leicester offices, smashing windows and spray painting the inside” last May, followed by similar actions in recent months.

And on Tuesday, Spanish foreign minister José Manuel Albares told Al Jazeera that Madrid had suspended all arms exports to Israel since 7 October.

Albares said that the events of that day “made us realize the importance of a just and lasting solution to the issue of the Palestinian people.”

US Arms Genocide

While these steps are important and necessary, the reality remains that Israel’s chief arms supplier, the United States, shows no signs of slowing down its airlift of the bombs and other weapons Tel Aviv is using to methodically exterminate Palestinians in Gaza.

Last week, US President Joe Biden said he held Iran responsible for the deaths of three American soldiers in a drone attack on a base in Jordan because, he alleged, “they’re supplying the weapons to the people who did it.”

Biden has also previously acknowledged that Israel has engaged in “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza – a war crime.

By his own standards, therefore, Biden is effectively confessing to his own guilt for war crimes that a growing number of companies and governments around the world refuse to support.


Ali Abunimah – Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books, and of One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.


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