A new report by Israeli activists on the technology and weapons deployed by the Israeli army in repressing the Palestinian ‚ÄúGreat March of Return” protests charges that the Gaza Strip is seen as a ‚Äúa lab and a showroom‚ÄĚ for the country‚Äôs arms manufacturers.
The report was produced by Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) and the organisation‚Äôs Hamushim project, which ‚Äúworks to expose the true human price of the Israeli military industry and arms trade, as well as to mobilise actions against it‚ÄĚ.
According to CWP:
Israeli military operations in Gaza in the past decade have been especially profitable for the country‚Äôs military industries.
‚ÄúBoth private companies and the Israeli government alike use Gaza as an opportunity to test new weapons, technologies and methods to be marketed based on their new operational success.‚ÄĚ
The report states that ‚Äúthe Great March of Return provided an opportunity for Israel to present its advanced UAV technology in a new setting‚ÄĚ, adding that ‚ÄúIsrael has long been a major drone exporter‚ÄĚ.
In particular, ‚Äúa new tear gas drone, ‚ÄėSea of Tears‚Äô, named after a famous hit song, was introduced. It has been reportedly designed specifically for use in Gaza.‚ÄĚ
Israeli forces‚Äô ‚Äúuse of drones fits into a worldwide pattern‚ÄĚ, states CWP. ‚ÄúThough today aimed primarily against Palestinians, similar technology will likely be marketed and sold to oppress others worldwide.‚ÄĚ
In addition to tear gas drones, the report examines the Israeli military‚Äôs use of UAVs ‚Äúto fire at groups of Palestinians as they organised to defend themselves against Israeli aggression‚ÄĚ.
‚ÄúSuch reports are particularly noteworthy,‚ÄĚ CWP states, because while the military ‚Äúcontinues to deny its use of killer drones, it takes pride in the advancements of their ever-growing fleet of UAVs‚ÄĚ.
According to research by Hamushim, ‚Äúthe weapon of choice in the Great March of Return was in fact the American Remington M24 rifle, which is known to shoot targets up to 800m away.‚ÄĚ
In addition, ‚ÄúAmnesty International forensic pathologists and military experts also identified wounds caused by Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI) Tavor rifles, with 5.56mm caliber ammunition. Those bullets often leave exit wounds expanding up to 15 cm to inflict maximal tissue damage.‚ÄĚ
In 2014, the report notes Eli Gold, an executive at IWI, told the Marker: ‚ÄúAfter every operation of the kind taking place in Gaza right now, we are seeing a big leap in the number of foreign customers. We market aggressively abroad as it is, but the IDF‚Äôs actions definitely effect our work.‚ÄĚ
Meanwhile, Magal Security Systems ‚Äúconstructed the fence surrounding Gaza to enforce the brutal siege‚ÄĚ. In a Bloomberg interview published 11 April, Magal‚Äôs then-CEO Saar Koursh gushed:
Gaza has become a showroom for the company‚Äôs ‚Äėsmart fences,‚Äô as customers appreciate that the products are battle-tested.
The report concludes that the Israeli military ‚Äúmade deliberate choices to kill and permanently injure considerable numbers of Palestinian civilians‚ÄĚ, with the crackdown on the march also providing ‚Äúthe military with a platform to introduce and showcase the use of drones as the strategic choice of the present and future‚ÄĚ.