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In the name of security and profits: Israeli-EU arms dependence

Israel seems to have acquired a permanent battleground with its defiant occupation of Palestinian territory and savage assaults upon Gaza. In Israeli terminology, as well as that of its allies, the definition is “security”. As defined by the Homeland Security Conference just a few days prior to the Gaza massacre, “Israel has long experience with terror… and expertise acquired over decades of combating internal security and terror threats.” A closer examination of the phenomenon, however, reveals that profits are just as important, if not more so.


As part of its plan to consolidate its belligerent occupation of Palestine, security as the means of combating resistance has become a profitable business, in particular in its export to Israel’s allies worldwide, including the European Union. Far from being a one-off, EU attendance at arms fairs with Israeli participation is a regular occurrence. The exhibition and sale of Israeli weapons bring together organisations whose “humanitarian missions” have wreaked havoc upon countless civilians. Apart from the Homeland Security Conference, EU countries and Israel were represented in Eurosatory 2012 in Paris, as well as this year’s ILA air show in Berlin.

Whilst Israeli and EU officials persist in citing security as the basis for such trading, the construction of a network of allies against perceived threats from minority groups is relevant to this discussion. Europe’s preoccupation with migration has breached all remaining vestiges of humanitarian discourse, as it resorts to the possibility of using Israeli drones to monitor migration trajectories and asylum seekers.

According to the European Council’s “defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment”, export licences should be denied in cases of international humanitarian law violations. However, Israel is the biggest non-EU recipient of such funds. Certain European universities, such as the University of Leuven and the University of Namur, participate in military technology research. Since the deadly raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in 2010, Israel has also consolidated its ties with Greece, pledging military aid. France, Germany and the United Kingdom were the major arms exporters to Israel during the period 2005 to 2009.

According to the Centre for Economic Policy Research, 82 EU-funded projects in Palestine have been damaged or destroyed by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Schools, housing projects, irrigation schemes, health care centres, agricultural and employment centres, as well as Gaza’s airport, were among the targets. Israel’s mission to annihilate any semblance of Palestinian survival has not deterred EU countries from seeking to equip themselves with technology that has been tried and tested by Israel in its systematic oppression of the Palestinians. The profits stemming from the arms trade surpass the cost of the deliberate destruction of EU funded projects in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Prior to “Operation Pillar of Defence”, the EU won the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for its “successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights”. This distorted definition of “peace” is an echo of the EU’s stance on Israel’s latest murderous offensive on civilians in Gaza, during which EU foreign ministers issued an ambiguous statement: “… there can be no justification for the deliberate targets of innocent civilians. Israel has the right to protect its population from these kinds of attacks.” Clearly, an allegiance with an occupying power responsible for terror against Palestinian civilians is valued above international humanitarian law, and human rights have become an aberration. When it comes to Israel’s brutal military occupation and repression of Palestinians, even the use of “collateral damage” to describe the killing of civilians is avoided in the name of security and profits.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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