May 2021: From the river...
We wanted to use this month’s newsletter to express our solidarity with Palestine. Here, we outline some of the ways the European Union has played a role in supporting Israel’s apartheid state through subsidising a military complex.
The EU has been financing R&D programmes for Israeli military companies, such as state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and private Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, ever since Israel joined the European Research Area in 1995. Through its financial instruments for research, FP7 (2007 – 2013) and Horizon 2020 (2014 – 2020), the EU has supported the development of technologies for both companies. Elbit Systems is directly involved in constructing the illegal wall that encloses Palestine, as well as in surveilling its population. Similarly, Israel Aerospace Industries has contributed to the construction of the wall and has supplied drones used in attacks against civilians.
In 2020, Frontex announced contracts with Airbus (the European aerospace and defence conglomerate) and IAI as its subcontractor, as well as with Elbit Systems, to operate unmanned drones surveilling migrants crossing the Mediterranean sea, which began this year. The agreements between Airbus, IAI and Frontex outline the leasing of MALE RPAS (Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aerial System) ‘Heron’ class for maritime patrol. Heron drones are advertised as ‘combat-proven’ after being used against the Palestinian population. In 2009, Human Rights Watch documented Heron aircrafts being used in Israel's attack on Gaza in 2008 and 2009, during which dozens of civilians were killed. Although the leased aircraft will not be able to carry weapons, the contract exemplifies the intimate links between the European border system and Israel’s industrial-military complex.
The EU has consistently funded and implemented technologies that are ‘tested’ out on Palestinians, concurrently designing an ever-more militarised border system that seeks to keep displaced populations out of the continent. Such systems of oppression form an entangled web of finance, militarisation and security, and benefit from the violent conditions they produce.
We stand against Israeli settler colonialism in Palestine in conjunction with Europe’s lethal border regime. We call for an end to Israel’s violence against Palestinians and condemn any action that enables Israel's occupation. Along with many of our colleagues and collaborators, we support the Letter Against Apartheid and the statement Architecture and Urban Planning Organizations Stand in Solidarity for Palestine. Palestine will be free.