Apartheid Arms: Why Israel Sells Military Equipment to Human Rights Violators


According to Amnesty International, over the past 20 years, Israeli military exports went to at least eight countries that have been known for serious violations of human rights,. (Photo: via MEMO)

Mohamed Mohamed, The Palestine Chronicle, May 21, 2019

An in-depth report released in Hebrew by Amnesty International’s Israeli chapter provides a damning picture of Israeli arms exports to countries that violate human rights. This report provides solid evidence that over the past 20 years, Israeli military exports went to at least eight countries that have been known for serious violations of human rights:

  • Azerbaijan – which has persecuted government critics and LGBTQ people – received Israeli battleships, anti-tank missiles, attack drones, military vehicles, and radar systems
  • Cameroon – implicated in kidnappings, torture, and murder – received Israeli military training and armored vehicles
  • Mexico – undergoing a severe human rights crisis and forced disappearances – received Israeli spyware software that targeted journalists, human rights lawyers, and anti-corruption activists
  • Myanmar – which has engaged in ethnic cleansing, genocide, and crimes against humanity – received armored vehicles and naval ammunition
  • Philippines – which carried out mass extrajudicial executions – received Israeli assault rifles, machine guns, and anti-tank guided missiles
  • South Sudan – implicated in ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity – received Israeli surveillance technology and assault rifles
  • Sri Lanka – which was engaged in a brutal civil war – received Israeli drones and battleships
  • United Arab Emirates – which has imprisoned government critics and human rights activists – received Israeli spyware software, including the infamous “Pegasus” spyware (just days ago, NSO, the Israeli company behind Pegasus, was linked to a security exploit targeting WhatsApp that allowed Pegasus to be installed)

What is worse is that some of these countries were under international sanctions and weapons sales embargoes, yet Israel continued to sell arms to them.

For example, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan due to its acts of ethnic cleansing, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and even using mass rape as a method of war. Yet South Sudan still ended up acquiring Israeli-made assault rifles. Part of this is due to the fact that Israeli weapons reach such countries after a chain of transactions, which helps to avoid international monitoring and decrease transparency.

Israeli authorities claim that they “carefully examine the state of human rights in each country before approving export licenses for selling them weapons,” but the fact that Israeli weapons made it to the countries mentioned above proves that this statement is far from the truth.

But this information is neither new nor shocking. As Jonathan Cook wrote in 2013, “despite having a population smaller than New York City, Israel has emerged in the last few years as one of the world’s largest exporters of weapons.”

At the time, analysts placed Israel as the sixth top producer of weapons, ahead of China and Italy. When accounting for covert weapons deals, Israel was even considered to be the fourth top producer, ahead of Britain and Germany.

Of course, much of these military sales were made possible at the expense and lives of Palestinians. A significant reason why Israeli weapons are so marketable is because they are presented as “battle-proven.” In other words, they were tested on Palestinians.

As Miko Peled wrote last year, an Israeli weapons manufacturer marketed its unmanned armored personnel carrier as “combat-proven” at the “Israel Unmanned Systems 2014” conference, since the 2014 war on Gaza was the first time that such a remote-controlled carrier had been successfully deployed.

And as Rania Khalek has mentioned, “Palestine has long served as a laboratory for Israel’s ballooning ‘homeland security’ industry to test and perfect weapons of domination and control, with disenfranchised and stateless Palestinians serving as their lab rats.”

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Palestinian artist brings Japanese origami to Gaza

Ahmed Humaid

In this January 16, 2019 photo Palestinian artist Ahmed Humaid, 29, works on one of his origami sculptures in his house in Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip. Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, is an unlikely pursuit for an artist living in the Gaza Strip, which has been largely cut off from the outside world since Israel and Egypt imposed a crippling blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory more than a decade ago. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Wafaa Shurafa, Associated Press, Jan 27, 2019

GAZA CITY — In a small studio packed with sculptures made of scrap metal, Palestinian artist Ahmed Humaid has found a new medium in origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.

It’s an unlikely pursuit for an artist living in the Gaza Strip, which has been largely cut off from the outside world since Israel and Egypt imposed a crippling blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory more than a decade ago.

But the 29-year-old Humaid, who has no regular job, says interest in origami is on the rise.

“With more people asking about it, this work has turned into a source of income for me,” said Humaid, who lives in Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

Humaid practices a form of origami in which he folds and forms the pages of an entire book into a readable inscription of calligraphic letters.

He has no formal training. He said he learned about origami when he saw some photos on Instagram. He began following Japanese artists and wrote to them. Some offered help and feedback.

When he made his first origami work in October, it took him 15 hours to finish. He shared the photo with some Japanese artists who acclaimed the work.

Since then, Humaid has sold 45 works locally, including books folded into names that lovers have given to each other as gifts, as well as logos for local businesses. Depending on the size and number of letters, he charges 50 to 100 shekels (about $15-30) per order.

Unemployment in Gaza, a coastal enclave sandwiched between Israel and Egypt, stands at more than 50 percent, according to U.N. and other international estimates. It is even higher among Gaza’s youth.

Humaid would like to expand his business beyond Gaza’s borders, but the blockade has cut off virtually all exports, and Israel and Egypt heavily restrict travel into and out of the territory.

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Gaza’s economy is not ‘falling.’ It was pushed.


Palestinian laborers protest against the continued Israeli siege and the spread of unemployment in Gaza City on May 1, 2018. (Photo: Ashram Amra/APA Images)

Marilyn Garson, Mondoweiss, September 27, 2018

The economic and social situation in Gaza that has been declining for over a decade, has deteriorated exponentially in recent months. . . The situation has reached a critical point.
— Economic Monitoring Report to the World Bank Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, Sept 27, 2018 (PDF)

The latest Economic Monitoring Report to the World Bank Ad Hoc Liaison Committee [AHLC] quantifies the collective punishment and mounting hardship of the Gaza Strip:

  • – 6% growth in the first quarter of 2018, compared to the same months of 2017.
  • 53.7% unemployment, over 70% for youth and 78% for women in Q1, 2018. The first figures from Q2 suggest that unemployment has risen a further 5%.
  • 53% of Gazans – every second person – lives below the poverty line.
  • 2% of Gazans receive an uninterrupted supply of water. 98% do not.

The cause is not in doubt: the government of Israel imposes “restrictions that are the main impediment” to normal economic activity. “The blockade has caused Gaza’s economy to deindustrialize”. As proportions of GDP, manufacturing and agriculture have declined by more than half since 1994. The blockade and repeated wars have caused Gaza’s economy to grow more slowly than all of its comparator economies (including the West Bank).

And try doing business in an economy this volatile:

(Source: Economic Monitoring Report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, September 27, 2018)

The structure of the problem explains Gazans’ vulnerability to the cuts made by Israel and Donald Trump this year. The blockade has strangled normal economic activity, such that the public sector is nearly all that remains. Rather than being an economic actor, entrepreneurial Gaza has been reduced to being a recipient. Gaza has been “kept afloat by… transfers”, rather than trade. In 2014 (the most recent figures), the expenditures of UNRWA, the PA and Hamas roughly equalled Gaza’s GDP. Their activity was the only significant spending. This phenomenon will have become even more pronounced since the war.

As they were prevented from earning a living, Gazans increasingly needed assistance. Now 79% of Gazan Palestinians receive some form of assistance, compared with 15% of West Bankers. Aid represents up to 45% of poor Gazans’ income. The poorest, and those living in refugee camps, show the greatest drop in their household expenditures – and these indicators of escalating financial distress were compiled before the most recent cuts took effect.

Hardship is, at last, evident in the declining secondary school enrolments. Education has always been Gaza’s signature, and among wealthier Gazans, it remains so. Among the poorest, it is becoming impossible, or futile, to keep their children in school after they have reached working age – especially their boys. Last year, 13% fewer Gazan boys completed Grade 9 than girls.

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Islam Maraqa of ISM on WORT

Gil Halstead with Islam Maraqa on Access

Shahir Hunaina, YouTube, November 16, 2016

My Blood is Palestinian (Dammi Falastini), translation by Sara Ba

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

We stood for you, our homeland
With our pride and Arabisim
Al-Quds land called us
(As) The sound of my mother calling me
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

O mother don’t worry
Your homeland is a fortified castle
Which I sacrifice my soul for
And my blood, and my veins

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

I’m Palestinian, a son of a free family
I’m brave and my head is always up
I’m keeping my oath to you my homeland
And I have never bowed to anyone
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 

Profile of Um Hassan from Al-Masara Village

Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance, Apr 12, 2018

Fatima Brejia (more commonly known as Um Hassan) is an organic farmer, community activist, founder of a local women’s organization, and most recently the head of the Al-Masara Village Council! She is the first Palestinian woman to be elected head of a village council.

Watch this video to learn more about Um Hassan and the amazing work she does for children and the rest of her community!

One woman tackles two of Gaza’s toughest challenges

We Are Not Numbers, February 23, 2018

A Gaza man with a SunBox

Two of the Gaza Strip’s most pressing challenges are a blockade-induced shortage of both electricity and building materials. And, in this conservative, patriarchal society, it’s a young, female engineer who is tackling both.

Twenty-four-year-old Majd al-Mashharawi, a 2016 graduate in civil engineering, first figured out how to turn ash and rubble—of which Gaza has a lot—into a material she calls “Green Cake” that can replace cement. Now, she is turning her attention to renewable energy technologies, starting with a solar kit named SunBox. Now in the piloting phase, SunBox is, she says, the first off-the-grid solar kit in Gaza.

“Gaza has an extreme shortage of electricity—receiving just three to six hours a day. But the entire Middle East suffers from a lack of sufficient electricity,” Mashharawi says. “This severely affects both quality of life and opportunity for economic growth. But the region has a resource that can be harnessed—an average of 320 days of sunshine a year, making solar energy an ideal source of electricity production.”

Mashharawi researched solar options in use in Africa and India, where electricity outages also are common. However, she ended up turning to China for the most applicable solution. Her SunBox product is a small solar energy collection kit she imports, modifies to accommodate local electrical outlets and voltage and sells for US$355—a price her market research shows is affordable to most households. (She hopes to partner with microfinance businesses for those families who need to pay in installments.) The kit generates 1,000 watts of electricity—enough to power four lamps, two laptops, two phones, an internet router and a TV/fan/small refrigerator for a full day, before needing a “refresh” (using either the sun or the electrical grid, when available).

Mashharawi (far right) using a SunBox to power a light and laptop

If the Gaza launch goes well, Mashharawi is already dreaming of expanding into other markets—West Bank refugee camps, Syrians in Jordan and off-grid Bedouin communities throughout the Middle East (perhaps the largest of the populations, at an estimated 3.2 million).

Early inspiration

Mashharawi attributes her entrepreneurial spirit to her 11th grade math teacher.

"He forced us to find a way to solve math assignments on our own—rather than simply memorizing the formulas. It was the first and most difficult challenge of my life," she recalls.

This led Mashharawi to spend her entire, three-month summer holiday figuring out the "why" behind the answers so she could compile a booklet to distribute to other students. Mashharawi considers this her first startup.

“I didn't know how to change it into a business, however,” she laughs. “I was young and unaware of how businesses work.”

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