An Israeli military investigation has found that Hamas weapons are Chinese-made. A report published by the Telegraph in Britain stated that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) uncovered stockpiles of firearms and munitions, including assault rifles and grenade launchers, that were produced in China. Non-military equipment, such as radios, were also found.
An Israeli intelligence official expressed surprise at the discovery and said his country now needs to understand how the weapons made their way from China to Hamas. “This is top-grade weaponry and communications technology, stuff that Hamas didn’t have before,” the source said.
Relations between China and Israel have somewhat deteriorated since the terror attack on the Jewish state on October 7. After the attack, China reiterated its support for Palestinian statehood and did not explicitly condemn the atrocity. Following a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, President Xi Jinping strengthened his statement, although he did not name or condemn Hamas, but merely objected to “all violence and attacks on civilians.”
Defense expert Dr. Patrick Bury has suggested, however, that the weaponry probably wound up in Hamas’s hands via Iran rather than directly from China. “It could be stuff that was purchased by Iran off China,” he said.
In 2021, Iran signed a strategic partnership deal with China that was touted to cement relations between the two countries for a quarter of a century. China has also opposed US sanctions on Iran, and the 2021 deal allowed for Chinese investment in Iranian companies and trade of essential resources, including oil.
More recently, on January 8, the Chinese government announced it was suspending shipments to Israel, reportedly due to rising tensions in the Red Sea. Iran-backed Houthi militants have been attacking vessels in the region, pushing freight costs up and potentially impacting inflation. Larry Lindsey of the global economic advisory firm The Lindsey Group said there is a risk of repeating the supply chain difficulties seen during the coronavirus pandemic “if the problems in the Red Sea continue.”