#NigeriaWarAgainstBiafra: Israel, Nigeria and the Biafra civil war, 1967–70 by Zach Levey


The Biafran secession of 1967 and ensuing civil war presented Israel with an acute dilemma. Israel sought to maintain correct relations with the Federal Government of Nigeria, which viewed as a hostile act any support rendered to the Biafran separatists. At the same time, the plight of the Igbos reminded many Israelis of the Holocaust. This article makes use of Israeli archival material to shed new light on how Israel shaped its policy towards the conflict. The Israeli public, press and parliament called for assistance to Biafra, evoking their country’s deep moral obligation to help a people in distress. Israel aided Biafra, including, in a clandestine manner, the supply of weapons for which the secessionists pressed, in addition to humanitarian assistance. At the same time, Israel also sold arms to Nigeria, seeking to prevent a diplomatic rupture with the Lagos government that would have affected Israel’s position in all of black Africa.

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Volume 16, 2014 – Issue 2-3: Special double issue: The Nigeria-Biafra war, 1967–1970: postcolonial conflict and the question of genocide