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Are Israel defence firms marketing ‘field tested’ weapons at Singapore Airshow?

February 23, 2024 at 8:49 am

Visitors stand next to a model of the Blue Spear land-to-sea missile system, developed by Proteus Advanced Systems Pte. Ltd., a joint venture company of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) and ST Engineering Land Systems Ltd., at the Singapore Airshow held at the Changi Exhibition Centre in Singapore, on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. [SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

Israel’s defence industry was out in force at the Singapore Airshow this week, making its return after being largely absent from the Dubai air show in November in the wake of its bombing campaign in Gaza, a subject that was off limits at the Asia summit, Reuters reports.

The Israeli Ministry of Defence and 11 of its defence contractors attended Asia’s largest aerospace and defence gathering, including Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Elbit Systems ESLT.TA.

IAI, Rafael, Elbit and the defence ministry all declined to comment on the war in Gaza, including the performance of their own weapons.

“We don’t discuss weapons,” Ziv Avni, vice president of business development at Elbit, told Reuters at the unveiling of its latest aerial drone, which a placard said could carry “loitering munitions for covert and precise air strikes”.

Israeli arms and ammunition are “field-tested” on Palestinians in the occupied territories, including Gaza, as Yotam Feldman revealed in his 2013 documentary The Lab. Critics say this is why it is in Israel’s interest to maintain its brutal military occupation: it benefits the arms industry.

Read: US set to deliver arms, munitions shipment to Israel amid looming Rafah offensive

It is also beneficial for the economy which, as a result of the war on Gaza, shrank by almost 20 per cent in the last quarter of 2023, causing Moody’s Investors Service to downgrade the deposit ratings of Israel’s five largest banks for the first time in the country’s history.

Unauthorised public assemblies and protests over political situations in other countries are banned in Singapore. But there was some criticism online about Israeli defence firms at the air show.

IAI, Rafael and the Israeli defence ministry did not respond to requests for comment about the online criticism.