Israel deployed unmanned drones to drop tear gas on Palestinian protesters for the first time on the 9th of March 2018 in an unprovoked attack on the militarised Gaza border.
The Lebanese press outlet Al-Mayadeen reported that a crowd of dozens of Palestinians protesting their occupation in front of the Gaza-Israel barrier fled the scene as tear gas canisters fell from UAVs.
Though Israel have not provided details on the technology in question, an Israeli company called ISPRA unveiled their Cyclone riot control drone system in a French Military trade show called Milipol back in 2015, boasting that it offers ‘maximum accuracy, real time control of riot situations, and minimum injuries to civilians while maintaining distance between police forces and rioters’. However, there are various other UAVs marketed as ‘riot control’ tools, including a U.S army-contracted model called ShadowHawk produced by Vanguard Industries in the US.
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, officials in Tel Aviv say that the new crowd-control technique remains ‘experimental and has not yet been made operational’, but apparently deemed it appropriate to beta test the robotic dispersion of a gas that can cause blindness on the encaged residents of the Gaza strip.
The State of Israel have long marketed themselves as the Samsung of emerging militaristic technologies, treating global cable news footage of efficient IDF slaughter as a free advertisement of their instruments to authoritarian regimes around the world.
A freedom of information request in 2013 revealed that over 6,800 Israelis have been granted State licences to broker death machines. From the training pitches of civilian crowds in Gaza and the West Bank, window units are then sold across America, Europe and across the world to military leaders confident that they are purchasing weapons of the highest quality owing to their ‘experience’ and ‘test-readiness’.
Benjamin Ben Eliezer, a former defence minister turned industry minister, attributes Israel’s huge arms industry to the fact that ‘people like to buy things that have been tested’, he told Al Jazeera.’ If Israel sells weapons, they have been tested, tried out. We can say we’ve used this 10 years, 15 years.”
Needless to say, Israel are the global tastemakers when it comes to weapons, and many of the world’s most iconic violent devices first strut their stuff on the Jerusalem catwalk. The Uzi submachine gun was designed for IDF use in the 1956 Suez Campaign, remaining relatively unloved for couple of decades as a favoured tool of South African and Rhodesian apartheid militias, before going mainstream in US culture in the 80s as a symbol of the Miami drug wars. Largely omitted from Scarface tales of Cocaine trafficking and gang violence was the flow of Israeli weapons to South and Central American cartels.
Similar stories are heard in a variety of weapons technology coups: surface-to-air guided missiles, mine-protected armoured vehicles – both developed and perfected in Israel before becoming US army staples and ultimately finding their way into the hands of the worst of us through the black market.
Israel’s dominant position at the summit of UAV technology should therefore serve some indication of the direction of futuristic warfare and policing. 45% of the global industry belongs to Tel Aviv, and it’s rapidly growing.
According to the Teal Group, current worldwide military UAV production stands at around $2.8 billion, and they project it will grow to $9.4 billion in 2025. What started as an improvised method of spying on Egypt and their Suez Canal, 70% of the Israeli airforces’ flying time now takes place without a warm body in the cockpit.
Given Israel’s status as weapons mavericks and influencers, and the rapid growth of UAVs designed specifically for ‘crowd control’ purposes or at least with modular capabilities, it is surely a question of when, not if, we see these techniques used at Standing Rock or Occupy demonstrations on the streets of London?
Amity Underground | Israel/Palestine