Israel’s killer robots go on display at Greek weapons fair

Was Yair Lapid acting as a salesperson for Israel's weapons when he visited Europe this week (NATO)

David Cronin

The Electronic Intifada  /  July 15, 2021

There was talk of a “fresh start” when Yair Lapid visited Brussels this week.

Israel’s foreign minister was on a mission to “reboot” relations with Europe.

But behind his fresh facade lurked something rotten and sinister.

Lapid wasn’t simply visiting to charm those EU representatives who are always impressed by smartly dressed liberals. He also paid a trip to the headquarters of NATO, a military alliance dominated by the US.

A tweet from Alon Ushpiz, the top official in Israel’s foreign ministry indicated that Lapid was making a sales pitch. The discussions with NATO’s administration were part of a “continuous effort to strengthen our cooperation first and foremost on technology,” Ushpiz stated.

The technology to which he refers has often been tested on Palestinians.

Israel’s attack on Gaza during May offered an opportunity to expand the use of advanced military equipment.

A recent article in Defense Update – a website promoting Israel’s war industry – explains how the attack was facilitated by the latest version of the Elbit Systems’ Digital Army Program.

The program gathers information about “all activities related to enemy actions.” By doing so, the Israeli military could “accelerate the targeting process,” the article states.

Killing faster ?

During its May offensive, Israel deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure and carried out massacres of civilians.

Moreover, Israel regards millions of Palestinians as enemies. Back in 2007, Israel designated the entire Gaza Strip as a “hostile entity.”

So what is a weapons trade website really saying when it enthuses about how technology can “accelerate the targeting process”? Does it mean that Israel can now kill children and other non-combatants faster than before?

Elbit is Israel’s top weapons firm.

Since the May attack, Elbit has proven that it is attractive to investors by raising almost $580 million worth of capital in Tel Aviv. Elbit will use some of this money to expand its business in the US and Europe, the firm has stated.

As part of efforts to boost exports, Elbit is now taking part in Defence Exhibition Athens. That fair is sponsored by the Greek government, which has become a major client of Elbit in recent years.

Elbit is one of many Israeli firms participating in the fair.

Rafael, the main firm behind Iron Done – a system for intercepting rockets fired by Palestinian resistance fighters – will be showcasing its Sea Breaker “autonomous weapon system.”

Autonomous weapon systems are more commonly known as “killer robots.” Rafael boasts of how Sea Breaker offers “effective warhead lethality” and how it uses artificial intelligence technology that has been “combat proven.”

“Combat proven” is a euphemism for equipment that has already been tried out in military attacks. If Rafael’s boast is accurate, it implies that Israel has begun using artificial intelligence and related technology against Palestinians – as The Jerusalem Post has reported.

Blood-stained brand

The Athens fair is one of several events in Europe where Israel’s weapons traders enjoy a hearty welcome.

In October, Paris will play host to Milipol, an exhibition of “homeland security” equipment.

Israel Weapon Industries has long booked a stall.

That firm advertises how its rifles are “developed in close cooperation” with Israel’s military. It does not spell out how those firearms enabled snipers to gun down participants in Gaza’s Great March of Return during 2018.

NSO Group – a firm producing malware for spying on journalists – is another Israeli exhibitor expected at Milipol.

So is Wintego, which assists government agencies in extracting “secured data and chats” from mobile phones.

By making ultra-modern tools for spying and killing, Israel markets itself as passionate about innovation. And elites in the West can always be relied on to endorse any Israeli brand, keeping hush about how it is stained with Palestinian blood.

David Cronin is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada; his books include Balfour’s Shadow: A Century of British Support for Zionism and Israel and Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occupation