Israel's lucrative population-control arms industry
Israel has two captive communities to use as guinea pigs in the development of weapons of war and population control.
On Friday, 15 May 2015, in the West Bank village of Kafr Qaddoum, the Israeli Army was caught on camera chasing a five-year old child and spraying him with 'skunk' water, Israel's choice chemical weapon that stinks of sewage. There was a non-violent protest taking place at the time but the boy was not part of it. A series of photos, taken by local resident, Ahmad Nazzal, begin with a soldier moving to grab the child, who turns in fear and goes in the opposite direction to the gang of heavily armed soldiers that occupies the village street. An armoured vehicle, equipped with a high-velocity sprayer then follows the child who tries to run away from the truck but falls down among rocks and is sprayed with the chemical. Local residents then find the boy and carry him to where they can guard and comfort him.
The Israeli company Odortec markets the product 'Skunk' for what it calls “law enforcement agencies concerned about keeping down budgetary expenses". The company describes the weapon as “the most effective, cost-efficient and safest riot control solution available” and say that it “has been enthusiastically adopted by both the Israeli police and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).” Odortec says “our management team includes command-level police officers with extensive field experience, alongside successful entrepreneurs with rich business and academic backgrounds.” Victims on the receiving end of this weapon describe it as smelling like raw sewage and decomposing corpses. It clings to the human body with a stench that lasts for days. A 75-year-old woman, Rubhiya Abd al-Rahman Darwish, was admitted to hospital last year after being soaked in the disgusting fluid. The Israeli military also sprays the chemical on buildings in popular tourist areas in Bethlehem to discourage visitors and make life miserable for residents.
Israel has two captive communities to use as guinea pigs in the development of weapons of war and population control. Gaza is used to develop bombardment and terror techniques as well as advanced chemical weapons use. In the West Bank weapons, such as 'Skunk', are developed to intimidate the population and maintain Zionist hegemony. Techniques for crippling socio-economic activities like agriculture, fisheries, power production and distribution etc., upon which a population's well-being depend, are developed with the objective of profitably furthering the objectives of the Zionist enterprise.
Israel's booming arms trade
In 2013, a documentary called The Lab turned the spotlight on Israel's arms industry. It showed how captive Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are being subjected to military experiments that not only keep them subjugated but also enrich Israeli arms dealers, entrepreneurs and former generals. Israel is ranked as one of the world's largest arms exporters, which is hardly surprising given the country's militaristic founding ideology and massive US tax-payer contributions to the Israeli military. Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, a former Israeli Defence Minister, attributes Israel's burgeoning arms sales to the fact that "people like to buy things that have been tested.” This thriving export industry is based upon armaments and techniques of coercion that are refined and tested upon real communities and showcased to the world as such. Israel can demonstrate that it has the techniques and proven ability to control the lives of subject people, down to the finest detail. Dictators and would-be neocon dictators have fallen in love with the endless possibilities that Israel is placing before them.
Jeff Halper, the Israeli-American director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, tells us that Israel's success in selling its know-how to powerful states means it has grown ever more averse to returning the Occupied territories to the Palestinians. He says that the Occupied territories are crucial as a laboratory that affords Israel a pivotal role in the global homeland security industry: "Other states need Israel's expertise, and that ensures its place at the table with the big players. It gives Israel international influence, way out of keeping with its size. In turn, the hegemonic states exert no real pressure on Israel to give up the Occupied territories because of their mutually reinforcing interests."
In June 1913, Israel's growing success at arms marketing was revealed when the defence analyst publication Jane's ranked Israel in sixth place as an arms exporter ahead of China and Italy, both of whom are major weapons producers. Israel's own figures, which include additional covert trade deals, actually place it in fourth place ahead of Britain and Germany. If that is correct, it would leave Israel surpassed only by the United States, Russia and France.
The human cost
World Bank has issued a warning that the Gaza Strip economy faces imminent total collapse. In Brussels on 27 May 2015 the institution will present a report to the bi-annual Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) meeting that highlights the crisis in the Gaza Strip's economy, due to Israel's blockade and economic stranglehold. Gaza has the highest unemployment rate in the world and in 2014 it reached 43%. Youth unemployment is even higher, at 60%. Gaza's export industries are now almost non-existent and manufacturing has shrunk by 60%. At the same time, Israel continues to attack Palestinian fishing boats and agriculture, with over 300 Israeli ceasefire violations recorded so far this year.
While the Gaza Strip remains isolated from the rest of the world the West Bank remains burdened with Israel’s Occupation Wall and colonies. The Palestinian population suffers continual violence and harassment from both the Occupation settlers and Army. It should not be forgotten that Israel also controls all border terminals in the West Bank, causing a devastating decline in Palestinian imports and exports and depriving the Palestinian people of control over their own natural resources. Israel has deliberately chosen to impose its illegal settlements in the most desirable and fertile areas of the Occupied West Bank. Israel's destructive military 'exercises' in the Jordan Valley are a brutal mockery carried out in what was once known as the “fruit basket of Palestine.” Israel's annexation Wall is carefully aligned to facilitate further construction and expansion of Occupation settlements, while at the same time depriving the Palestinian people of access to what is left of their orchards and farmland. In addition, settler fanatics regularly uproot Palestinian fruit trees and set fire to their orchards and farmland. Occupation settlers are also responsible for flooding Palestinian farmland with sewage and spraying crops with toxic chemicals.
The global arms trade is a growing source of wealth for Israel, which means that there is every incentive for Israel to continue occupying and exploiting native Palestinians. The Lab suggests that arms sales steadily increased since 2002, when the Israeli Army re-invaded the West Bank and Gaza in an operation known as Defensive Shield, reversing its withdrawals from Palestinian territory that had been initiated by the Oslo accords. A huge surge in the arms trade followed Operation Cast Lead, Israel's month-long attack on Gaza in the winter of 2008-09. Sales that year reached $6bn for the first time. Jeff Halper believes that Israel has made itself useful to powerful states that wish to impose their will on others: "The United States, for example, knows better than anyone how to attack other countries, as it did with Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel can't teach it much on that score. But the US doesn't have much idea what to do after the attack, how to pacify the population. That is where Israel steps in and offers its expertise." These days much military training in the West is carried out in simulated urban environments, streets and houses. Israel has the edge here because it has real people and real towns and villages within which to develop its techniques of population control and manipulation.
Responsibility and international law
The international community forcibly consigned the Palestinian people to live under the Zionist yoke, starting with the imposition of an unjust partition of their land. Ever since, Israel has been allowed to get away with the most egregious violations of international humanitarian law. It is time to make amends, take steps to defend the Palestinian people and call Israel to account. Further inaction makes a mockery of the West's oft-proclaimed 'values' and will only reinforce destabilising pressures in the Middle East.