“We know UK-produced military equipment has been used by Israel in its previous actions. An embargo on all military exports to, and military collaboration with, Israel is essential to send a strong message to the Israeli government that the UK does not support its military action against the Palestinians” Anne Feltham — Campaign Against the Arms Trade
It’s often argued that the Israel-Palestine conflict gets a disproportionate amount of attention from U.K based activists. The Zionist lobby cast dark aspersions of institutional anti-semitism, asking why the deaths of Palestinians provoke nationwide demonstrations in the streets but the deaths of even larger numbers just over the border in Syria do not? The answer is that Israel is a crucial link in the western military alliances — our government sponsors UK arms companies to do business with Israel and purchases “battle tested” Israeli equipment. What is happening in Gaza is being done in our name, with our money.
Opening today (14th July), even as the bombs rain down on Gaza, is Britain’s contribution to a world filled with hi-tech mayhem. The Farnborough airshow, despite it’s public image as a family day out is in fact five days of arms dealing followed by just two days of candy floss and Red Arrows. The Campaign against the Arms Trade have likened it to “a Glastonbury for the international arms trade”. It’s very much a government sponsored affair, in fact David Cameron was there glad handing this morning.
Despite the onslaught in Gaza and public appeals from our government to “end the violence” a number of Israeli companies, including its largest arms exporter, Israel Aerospace Industries, which manufactures aircraft, electronics and missiles and drone manufacturer Elbit Systems are exhibiting at Farnborough. Eighteen U.K companies that do business with Israel are also present. The blood on their hands is being refreshed by the minute.
Many of the companies involved e.g Raytheon and Thales are multi-headed beasts that have a variety of subsidiaries in the U.K, U.S and Israel. Different companies form partnerships for specific projects and manufacture components for each others weapons systems meaning the military technology of these states is firmly intertwined. For a full list of U.K companies doing business with Israel’s military
Although some co-operation with Israel is at the relatively low-tech end, e.g Land Rover whose Defender model forms the basis of the David Light Armoured Vehicle, it is in the sphere of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles UAVs or drones that Israel leads the field.
ONE CAREFUL DRONER
Drones, together with F-16s are the primary weapon being used in the bombardment of Gaza right now. They are the perfect weapon for a hi-tech militarized state to use against an impoverished neighbour. “Entire houses are being targeted and entire families are being murdered. Early Thursday morning the entire al-Haj family was wiped out – the father Mahmoud, mother Bassema and five children. No warning, a family targeted and removed from life. Thursday night, the same again, no warning, five more dead including four from the Ghannam family, a woman and a seven year old child amongst them.” – Electronic Intifada
The U.K government is keen to buy into the expertise that produces results like that. “In October 2005 the UK government awarded a $500m contract to UAVTactical Systems Ltd. (U-Tacs) a joint venture company formed by Thales UK and Israeli company Elbit Systems, based in Leicester, to build up to 100 Watchkeeper UAVs. Watchkeeper is a derivative of the Israeli Hermes 450 drone but differs in having an automatic landing capability and multiple payload configuration” – Drone Wars . The U.K, Israel and the U.S are the only nations to employ armed drones. SchNEWS has been told that British troops have trained in the use of drones in Israel.
U.K complicity and profiteering in the ongoing degradation of life in the West Bank and the siege of Gaza has been exposed by Corporate Watch. At the moment the Palestine Solidarity movement is concentrating it’s efforts on getting numbers out on the streets to show the disgust at the latest round of indiscriminate killing. SchNEWS will be outside the Israeli embassy on Saturday, but we can’t help wondering if we’d be better off at Farnborough..