Stocks Rise for Israeli Drone-Maker as Gaza Slaughter Continues

by Rania Khalek, Electronic Intifada

Bodies of Palestinians killed in an Israeli air strike on the floor of a hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, earlier today. (Ramadan El-Agha / APA images)

Bodies of Palestinians killed in an Israeli air strike on the floor of a hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, earlier today. (Ramadan El-Agha / APA images)

As Israel ruthlessly destroys the besieged Gaza Strip, its largest developer of military technology, Elbit Systems, is benefitting from the bloodshed.

US-traded shares of Elbit have climbed 6.1 percent since 8 July, when Israel began its latest offensive against the Gaza Strip. 

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Israel’s three-week long massacre of 1,200 Palestinians in Gaza, including nearly 300 children, “has pushed [Elbit’s] stock close to the highest level since 2010 while its valuation on a price-to-earnings basis is near the most expensive in five years.” 

The rising stock is driven by speculation that the Haifa-based company will see increasing demand for its products from both the Israeli and foreign governments impressed by the performance of Elbit’s blood-soaked performance in Gaza. 

Palestine is a laboratory

Like most Israeli military contractors, Elbit benefits from Israel’s decades-long brutal occupation of Palestine, which serves as a laboratory for Israel’s ballooning “homeland security” industry to test and perfect methods of domination and control, with Palestinians as their involuntary lab rats.  

Israel’s suppression technology is then exported to regimes that are similarly invested in subjugating the poor and marginalized, like the United States, where Elbit was recently granted a lucrative $145 million contract to provide surveillance technology at the Arizona-Mexico border. 

This is the same Elbit surveillance technology used to construct and maintain Israel’s apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank, which the International Court of Justice has deemed illegal under international law.

Exporting repression

Experimenting on Palestinians has paved the way for Israel, a country the size of New Jersey, to become the world’s number one exporter of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones. 

Elbit’s Hermes drone is one of the most widely used by the Israeli army, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where the Hermes 450, outfitted to carry two medium range missiles, has been heavily deployed against civilians in Gaza.

Marketed as “combat-proven” on the company’s website, the Hermes 450 drone boasts “300,000 operational flight hours and a class-leading safety and reliability record,” a bold declaration for a product that, according to Human Rights Watch, was used by the Israeli army to deliberately target civilians in Gaza during Israel’s 2008-2009 onslaught, which killed 1,400 Palestinians, including at least 400 children. 

The Hermes drone was also used to kill civilians in Israel’s war on Lebanon in 2006, including Red Cross workers, ambulance drivers and dozens of people fleeing their homes in a desperate and futile search for safety from Israeli bombardment. 

Apparently impressed by the aircraft’s capacity for bloodshed, the Brazilian government purchased a fleet of Hermes drones to help crush the massive protests that erupted across Brazil against the recent World Cup. 

In a deal worth $280 million, the Swiss government last month purchased the Hermes 900, a surveillance version of the more deadly Hermes 450.

Elbit is also involved in a $1.6 billion joint venture with Thales, a French weapons company, to develop a drone similar to the Hermes 450 for the UK defense ministry.  

Exporting death

Palestinian children whose tiny bodies are torn to shreds by Elbit’s equipment are central to the company’s advertising strategy. 

In June, Elbit secured a $20 million contract to supply the Philippines armed forces with, among other things, unmanned turrets, remote control weapons stations and fire control systems. All of these systems furnish various models of the Israeli army’s most widely-used Merkava tank, several of which are currently inside the Gaza Strip, shelling hospitals and UN-designated shelters and reducing entire civilian neighborhoods, like Shujaiya, to rubble

Elbit’s unmanned turrets — electronically-controlled missile launchers mounted on top of tanks — are advertised as offering “combat-proven firepower.” 

The company similarly markets its remote-controlled weapons station as “field-proven,” adding that it “incorporates over thirty years of development in stabilization systems.” As for Elbit’s fire control systems, they have “repeatedly met the test of combat.” 

Decades of “field-testing” its killing machines on Palestinians is a selling point for Israel’s “homeland security” industry, and judging by the anticipation for profit that prompted Elbit’s shares to grow, it is a strategy that works. 

This is one of many reasons Palestinians have demanded an immediate and comprehensive military embargo on Israel.

Gaza is a ghettoized open-air laboratory of death and destruction. Equipment tested there is being exported to other parts of the world.

It is long past time to heed the Palestinian call to sever ties to this oppressive system at the source.

NY Drone Activist Mary Anne Grady Flores Released Pending Appeal of Charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2014
2:30 PM

CONTACT: The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

Mary Anne Grady Flores, Ithaca Catholic Worker, 607-280-8797

Ellen Grady, Ithaca Catholic Worker, 607-279-8303

Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council, 315-472-5478 or 315-383-5738

ITHACA, New York – July 19 – Last night Mary Anne Grady Flores was released on $5,000 bail from the Syracuse Justice Center after appearing before County Court Judge Thomas J. Miller who granted a stay of execution of her one year sentence, pending appeal of the Order of Protection granted to Col. Earl A. Evans by the DeWitt Town Court judges requiring drone protesters to stay away from the Hancock Airbase.

Mary Anne Grady Flores at sentencing at DeWitt Town Court, July 10, 2014

Mary Anne Grady Flores at sentencing at DeWitt Town Court, July 10, 2014

“The local judges of the Town of DeWitt have helped shut down the protests of the murder of Afghan civilians by drones piloted from the airbase. They have prevented us from exercising our First Amendment rights by issuing the Orders of Protection on behalf of the base,” said John Hamilton of Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones.

Hancock is a training center for drone pilots, technicians and maintenance workers, as well as a hub of drone activities. From the base the unmanned aircraft are flown over Afghanistan, where they kill people, including numerous civilians.

Grady Flores, grandmother of three, was the first alleged violator of the 50 drone activists who have been given the Order of Protection in 2012. She was tried and sentenced for a year in jail. Despite being out on bail, she still faces returning to jail. Her appeals process will take months.

“There are 30 upcoming trials over the next year. DeWitt Town judges threaten to sentence activists to a year in jail, many of them in their 60’s and 70’s,” said Judy Bello of Rochester. Bello noted that donations are essential to meet the costs of bail for so many as well as $5,000 transcripts for the appeals to move forward.

“This is far from over! The drones are still flying and the killing continues. We invite people to join the non-violent witness at the base,” said Rae Kramer of the Syracuse Peace Council.

###

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars is made up of antiwar organizations and formed around resistance to the MQ-9 Reaper Drone program at Hancock Field Air Force Base.

Non-Violent Drone Resister Sentenced to One Year in Prison

via Popular Resistance

Mary-Anne-Flores-Grady-holds-Catholic-WOrker

On July 10, grandmother of three, Mary Anne Grady Flores was sentenced to one year in prison after being found guilty of violating an Order of Protection. A packed courtroom of over 100 supporters was stunned as she was led away, and vowed to continue the resistance.

These Orders of Protection, typically used in domestic violence situations or to protect a victim or witness to a crime, have been issued to people participating in nonviolent resistance actions at Hancock Air Base since late 2012. The base, near Syracuse NY, pilots unmanned Reaper drones over Afghanistan, and trains drone pilots, sensor operators and maintenance technicians. The orders had been issued to “protect” Colonel Earl Evans, Hancock’s mission support commander, who wanted to keep protesters “out of his driveway.”

Mary Anne began her sentencing statement with, “Your honor, a series of judicial perversions brings me here before you tonight.” She concluded that the “final perversion is the reversal of who is the real victim here: the commander of a military base whose drones kill innocent people halfway around the world, or those innocent people themselves who are the real ones in need of protection from the terror of US drone attacks?”

The orders of protection are being challenged on many legal grounds.

Mary Anne had been issued a temporary order in 2012. The following year, she photographed a nonviolent witness at the base, but not participating herself because she did not want to violate the order. The irony is that those who actually participated in the action were acquitted, while Mary Anne was charged with violating the order.

Even though the pre-sentencing report recommended no jail time, Judge Gideon sentenced Mary Anne to the maximum of a year in prison. As he imposed his sentence, the judge referred to his previous Hancock decision. He had stated then and insinuated now, “This has got to stop.”

In addition, Mary Anne was fined $1000 plus a $205 court surcharge and a $50 fee to have her DNA collected.

Her verdict is being appealed.

For information on how to support Mary Anne, contact Ellen Grady at demottgrady6@gmail.com.

Contacts:

Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council (Syracuse), 315.472.5478 (SPC), 315.383.5738 (cell)
Ellen Grady, Ithaca Catholic Worker (Ithaca), 607.279.8303
Jim Clune, Broome County Peace Action (Binghamton), 607.773.0246
Judy Bello, Upstate Drone Action (Rochester), 585.733.4058
Vicki Ross, Western New York Peace Center (Buffalo), 716.884.0582
John Amidon, Veterans for Peace (Albany), 518.312.6442
Mark Colville, Amistad Catholic Worker (New Haven, CT), 203.415.5896

Several Killed in U.S. Drone Strike in Pakistan

via Al Jazeera English

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – At least six people have been killed in a US drone strike in the North Waziristan tribal area, where a Pakistani military operation against Taliban fighters is ongoing, intelligence sources tell Al Jazeera.

Two missiles were fired on Thursday on a compound and a vehicle in the village of Madakhel in the Dattakhel area of the province, intelligence sources said.

Pakistani protesters burn a representation of the U.S. flag to condemn American drone strikes on militants' hideouts in Pakistani tribal areas, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 in Multan, Pakistan. A suspected American drone fired two missiles at a home in a northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan, killing several foreign militants, two Pakistani intelligence officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Mansoor Abbas)

Pakistani protesters burn a representation of the U.S. flag to condemn American drone strikes on militants’ hideouts in Pakistani tribal areas, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 in Multan, Pakistan. A suspected American drone fired two missiles at a home in a northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan, killing several foreign militants, two Pakistani intelligence officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Mansoor Abbas)

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorised to speak to the media. Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the identity of those killed, as access to the area is restricted.

Al Jazeera’s coverage of civilian and military drone use
Thursday’s incident is the fourth US strike in Pakistan since a Pakistani military operation against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its allies in North Waziristan began last month.

The previous three strikes included twin attacks on June 12, which killed at least 10 people in Miranshah, and another strike on Miranshah on June 18, which killed at least four people.

In a closed-door briefing on July 1, Pervez Rashid, the Pakistani information minister, said that US drone strikes during the ongoing Pakistani military operation were “counterproductive”.

Major-General Asim Bajwa, chief of the army’s PR wing, said that drones “don’t help us”.

“This is an operation which is Pakistan’s own operation,” he said. “We have conceived it. This is our own capability […] if there is any kind of support that we’ve asked for, it’s [from] Afghans across the border or ISAF.

“Drones are not at all, I repeat not at all, part of our operational plan.”

Separately, Tasneem Aslam, spokesperson for Pakistan’s Foreign Office, said: “We have condemned these attacks. We have made it clear that these attacks are unacceptable, they violate Pakistan’s sovereignty. … we have said that drone strikes would complicate our efforts to eliminate terrorists.”

The June 12 strikes broke a six-month hiatus in the US drone campaign in Pakistan – the longest such break since US President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

‘Safe haven for terrorists’

Pakistan’s military operation – dubbed Zarb-e-Azb – is ongoing in North Waziristan, with the military saying that it has killed more than 400 people in air strikes and a ground offensive.

Pakistan’s military terms all of those killed “terrorists,” but it is impossible to verify that claim, due to restrictions on reporting.

On Wednesday, Major-General Zafarullah Khan, the military’s top ranking officer in North Waziristan, said that “80 percent of Miranshah and the adjoining area” had been cleared of fighters.

“North Waziristan had transformed into a hub and safe haven for terrorists of all colours and creeds,” he said during a media trip to Miranshah.

The operation has also generated an exodus of internally displaced people from the remote, underdeveloped tribal area.

According to government figures, more than 876,000 people have been displaced by the ongoing operation, after fleeing the Pakistani military’s aerial bombing campaign and Taliban reprisal attacks.

Al Jazeera’s Hameedullah Khan contributed reporting from Islamabad.

Follow Asad Hashim on Twitter: @AsadHashim

A Reply to Senator Gillibrand

New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand sent those on her “Gillibrand for Senate” e-mail list a 4th of July message this year that assured readers, “[w]hether you celebrated the holiday barbecuing, watching fireworks, or just relaxing with people you care about, please know that you are making a real difference in changing the face of government.” The senator, who “has supported efforts to make Central and Northern New York leaders in the military’s development of the remotely-piloted drone aircraft,” was answered by Drone Alert Hudson Valley co-founder Barbara Kidney:

Actually I spent the 4th leading a rally for our unalienable rights. We recited the second & third sentences of the Declaration of Independence- you know, where Jefferson states that the purpose of government is to secure & protect the unalienable rights of the people, including their life, liberty, safety, & happiness, & that when government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.

We considered these ideas in light of our current government, hijacked by sociopathic corporations, & so which forces on us policies which destroy our rights, including health & safety- fracking, bomb trains along the Hudson, ecosystem-destroying Monsanto running the Dept of Agriculture, no taxes for astronomically wealthy & often earth-destroying corporations, constant comprehensive surveillance, prosecution of whistleblowers like Manning & Snowden who, just like Jefferson, point out high crimes & misdemeanors of corrupt officials in office- like Obama, for instance. And random murders of people by drones, & Obama’s trashing of rights that had been part of Western law tradition since the days of the Magna Carta (1215).

Then later in the weekend I participated in an action protesting & warning people abt the bomb trains that the federal government allows to run along the Hudson & through all the cities along it. We commemorated the Lac Megantic disaster of a year ago, which has permanently chemically poisoned the town. And we noted the dumping of 100 or so gallons of Bakken crude into the Port of Albany this weekend, & the earthquake this weekend so close to decrepit, expired Indian Point nuclear plant, which has nowhere to contain its radioactive-for-100,000 years spent fuel rods, but would love to have communities in upstate NY be toxic dump sites for them.

So no, I’m not feeling complacent, & I am fully aware that the Democratic party is fully part & parcel of this destructive madness.

Sincerely,
Barbara Kidney

New Paltz: Rally for a Revolutionary July 4!

Rally for Our Unalienable Rights: July 4th @12:00 PM at the Peace Park in New Paltz

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According to the Declaration of Independence, all people have unalienable rights, and the role of government is to secure these rights for the governed. Government is consensual, and when government fails to fulfill its function and obligation of securing these rights, the people can exercise their right “to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, organizing… in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

So, in light of governmental policies of water, air, earth, and food poisonings on massive scales; crushing student debt; military attacks on civilians at home and abroad; unaffordable education, healthcare, child and eldercare; concerted legalized attacks on people because of their demographics (being female, dark skinned, Muslim, etc); debtors’ prisons; comprehensive surveillance, etc—how do YOU think our government is doing?

Let’s rally for our rights and network with each other on Independence Day Friday, July 4 in New Paltz starting at noon in the Peace Park behind Village Hall. We’ll assemble, hold a sidewalk march on Main St, rally in front of Elting Library, people’s mic(rophone) part of the Declaration of Independence, sing some songs (Pete’s spirit lives!), and return to Peace Park for a General Assembly. Stay afterwards for a picnic in Peace Park if you’d like—BYO food and supplies. Bring signs—which right or cause would you like to feature? Bring pipes, drums, and other musical instruments.

Weather forecast is favorable, but rain date is Sat. July 5 starting at 4 pm (Not noon!).

Event initiated by Drone Alert Hudson Valley & co-sponsored by the Anti-Oppression Forum (leftunited@gmail.com), the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, & Hudson Valley Earth First! Other progressive, rights-affirming groups are very welcome to join in.

Contact: Call Andrew at (845) 699-3051

Please spread the word!