Last Updated : 2019-08-21 09:09:00

UN, Palestinian refugees and an arms testing ground

22 January 2019 12:20 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


The name ‘United Nations’ (UN) was coined by US President Roosevelt and grew amid the ruins of World War II at a time the people all over the world wanted peace. The UN, as we know it today, is an inter-governmental organisation tasked primarily with maintaining international peace and security and aiming to develop friendly relations among nations.  

Rather unfortunately in one of its first acts of the UN, whether intentionally or otherwise, was to create the longest running conflict in its history. The UN carved out the State of Israel in what was originally Palestine on May 14, 1948 and accepted it (Israel) as a fully-fledged member. This despite the vociferous protests of the Palestinian people and their Arab neighbours.  

Through this single act, the body set up to maintain international peace had set in motion a sequence of events which would be an irritant in the search for international peace as well as stumbling block towards developing friendly relations among and between nations.  

A curious fact is that while the UN accepted Israel as a full member state of the world body, even today the world body does not recognise Palestine (out of which the state of Israel itself was carved out) as a full member state. The State of Palestine has been granted mere observer status at the world body with no voting rights. It is perhaps therefore not surprising it is the voice of Israel, and its version of events taking place in that region which is heard and believed by the international community.  

In the aftermath of the creation of Israel, according to the UN, as at January 2015, UNRWA cites 5,149,742 registered refugees in total, of whom 1,603,018 are registered in camps -- victims of Israeli attacks.  

Yet another curious fact about the UN, is that while the body was set up to eliminate war and foster peace, the Security Council of the UN whose permanent members are the US, Britain, France, Russia and China are the world’s biggest arms exporters. In other words, member-states of the only UN body with authority to impose binding resolutions on member states, are actually promoting on-going conflicts via their export of arms to conflict ridden nations of the world.  

Today Israel is among the world’s biggest arms exporting countries. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Israel ranked eighth among the top ten arms exporters in the world. Israel also accounted for 2.9% of all arms exports. Its exports increased by 55% compared to 2008-2012. Israel is the largest per-capita weapons exporter in the world, as Israeli arms companies have the advantage in marketing their products, on the claim that their products have been tested in actual combat.  

Miko Peled writing in ‘MPN NEWS quotes journalist Rania Khalek saying, less than one month after Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza dubbed ‘Operation Protective Edge’ -- in which more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed, including more than 500 children. Israel hosted an annual drone conference as well.  

Organized in partnership with the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, “Israel Unmanned Systems 2014” offered Israeli weapon manufacturers an opportunity to show their products, many of which were tested on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip earlier that year. One of the sponsors of that conference, according to the article was G-NIUS, which was used during the assault on Gaza, G-NIUS was able to present its product as “combat-proven.” The unmanned Armoured Personnel Carrier that was deployed in Gaza in the 2014 summer marked the first time a remote-controlled, unmanned armoured personnel carrier participated in combat.  

Another product deployed operationally for the first time during Operation ‘Protective Edge’ was Elbit’s Hermes 900, an advanced aerial attack and surveillance drone. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, the Israeli army used this drone to deliberately target civilians during the 2008-2009 attack on Gaza.  
‘Electronic Intifada’ showcased how Israel used Palestinians as test subjects for foreign arms companies. “In East Jerusalem, the Americans gave Israel sponge bullets,” Eitay Mack, a Jerusalem-based human rights lawyer and activist, said.  

The ‘black sponge bullets’ are manufactured by Combined Tactical Systems, a Pennsylvania-based firm that also supplies Israel with tear gas. The company’s brochure for these bullets contains a note marked “Caution.” It reads: “Shots to the head, neck, thorax, heart or spine can result in fatal or serious injury.”  
When asked whether Israeli arms companies use the fact that their products have been tested on Palestinians to gain international business, Shlomo Brom, a retired Israeli Brigadier General working at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel-Aviv, replied: “Of course”!  

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