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Israel sells surveillance drones to unnamed East Asian country

In another sign of Israel’s indispensability to the global arms industry, controversial weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems defeated its competitor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to win a lucrative tender to supply unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to an unnamed East Asian country. Elbit will provide the country with dozens of Hermes 900 UAVs in a deal valued at roughly $300 million according to the company’s website.

The purchasing country’s air force is said to be already operating the smaller Hermes 450 aircraft and is seeking to expand on its reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, Israeli news site Calcalist reported.

Analysts describing what they see as Israel’s “Look East” policy – where the Zionist state seeks to strengthen ties with Asian countries – have explained that rising anti-Israel social movements, such as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in European countries are partly responsible for this policy reorientation.

Present day Israeli foreign policy is said to be giving considerable attention to the Southeast Asian countries, namely Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Myanmar. The latter has recently experienced a military coup and over the past few years the East Asian country’s regime was accused of committing genocide against Rohingya Muslims. In 2019 the UN slammed Israel arms sales to Myanmar in its Rohingya genocide report.

Elbit Systems is often the target of campaigns by human rights groups. The Israeli firm produces surveillance technology for the illegal Separation Wall in the occupied West Bank and is said to manufacture the engines for 85 per cent of the country’s military drones, among other weapons components. Its drones, which include the Hermes 450 and its later 900 model, were employed extensively during the 51-day attack on Gaza in 2014, which killed over 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children.

Greater awareness of Elbit’s role in human rights violations and alleged war crimes has tarred the company’s image. Last month East Sussex Pension Fund was the latest to divest from Israeli firm months after human rights activists lobbied the fund to bring an end to its ties to companies which violate international law.

Critics of Israel have argued that Israel has cultivated a niche position within the global arms industry. The Zionist state’s “culture of deep militarism” and years of experience in suppression of political rights puts the country in a perfect place to export its technology of control and domination to others. Its unique experiences have made Israel an invaluable asset to governments around the world that are confronted with new security challenges.