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Israeli Gun Dealers Accuse Europe of Limiting Exports

Israeli gun shop owners are claiming that European authorities recently stopped issuing licenses to exporters of hand guns and related equipment to Israel.

A Tel Aviv gun shop owner said his Belgian supplier had told him that his request for an exporting license had been rejected out of concern that such weapons, intended for self-defense and sporting activities, would be used against Palestinians.

Roni Argov, a representative for Israeli shooting ranges and gun shop owners, told the Israeli daily Ha’aretz that the incident was not an isolated one.

Argov said that Belgium and Austria in particular were creating difficulties for exporters sending products to Israel. Even small orders, totaling only 25 handguns, were being turned down, he said.

Argov said such policies had been enacted during the height of the 1987-1993 Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in the territories.

Asked about the Ha’aretz report, a Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that there was no decision to limit arms exports to Israel.

Export requests are studied “on a case by case basis,” he said.

(JTA correspondent Joseph Kopel in Brussels contributed to this report.)

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