Brasília (Agencies): Brazil has approved the purchase of Israeli Howitzers, despite the country’s President recently accusing Israel of causing the deaths of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza. The Brazilian government has proceeded with the order of howitzers from Israel, the same nation it accused of committing a “genocide” against Palestinians.

Despite Brazil’s condemnation of Israel’s actions in Gaza, which led to a diplomatic fallout between the two nations, Brazil has not been deterred from procuring weapons from Israel.

Last week, Brazil announced its selection of the Israeli ATMOS-2000, a truck-mounted 155-mm Self-Propelled Howitzer/Gun (SPH/SPG). The competitors for the Howitzer deal included the French CAESAR, the Chinese SH-15, and the Slovakian Zuzana-2.

On March 2, South America’s defense and military analysis forum, SA Defensa, reported that the “four options” had been “narrowed down” following a “rigorous evaluation.” Last week, it was reported that Brazil’s Ministry of Defense concluded the Viatura Blindada de Combate Obuseiro Autopropulsado (VBCOAP) competition, declaring Israel’s Elbit Systems as the winner.

The Contract According to the “initial contract,” the company is now expected to supply 36 guns, with the first two units as part of the “Sample Lot” to be delivered within 12 months.

These vehicles will “undergo technical and operational evaluations in Brazil.” A main contract will follow for the remaining 34 systems, which will be delivered in annual batches until 2034. It’s worth noting that in January 2023, Colombia also ordered 18 ATMOS guns in a deal worth $101.7 million.

The main trial will involve comprehensive field firing and mobility trials. The government of President Lui Inacio Lula Da Silva (or “Lula” as he is affectionately known) is also expected to have considered supply chain, life-cycle costs, and availability of spares, components, which usually differ depending on the country of origin.

ATMOS-2000 SPH The 52 caliber Autonomous Truck-Mounted Howitzer System (ATMOS), mounted on a Tatra T-815 6×6 wheeled truck, features a magazine of 27 rounds and achieves a maximum range of 41 kilometers with extended range rounds. Its rate of fire, ranging from 4-9 rounds per minute, ensures rapid response in combat situations.

The acquisition of the ATMOS by the Brazilian Army is part of its efforts to modernize its artillery capabilities. The Israeli howitzers will complement its existing arsenal, which includes the ASTROS II multiple rocket launcher, the M109A5 self-propelled howitzer, and the Gepard anti-aircraft system. The ATMOS-2000 is also used by Azerbaijan, Botswana, Denmark, Cameroon, the Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, and Zambia.

Traditionally, Brazil has been supportive of Palestine, advocating for a Palestinian state to be established on the borders that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

Israel had seized the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem during the war. Brazil’s stance hardened and became sharply critical of Tel Aviv after civilian deaths in the war in Gaza earlier this year neared 20,000.

Recent estimates put the toll at close to 30,000 casualties. Lula had termed Israel’s war on Gaza a “genocide” against Palestinians and even compared it with Adolf Hitler’s extermination of the Jewish people during the Holocaust. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Lula’s remarks, stating that the comparison was “crossing a red line.”

In response to his remarks, Israel soon declared Lula a “persona non-grata,” while Brazil retaliated by recalling its ambassador in Tel Aviv.

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