Human rights campaigners claim that the Israeli army and defense corporations exploit the deadly Gaza protests to test and advertise hardware like drones, sniper rifles and 'smart' fences.
"The Israeli military industry exploits the occupation of Palestine, and specifically the siege on Gaza, as an arena to battle-test, invest in, and innovate military technology to later be marketed to the international community based on their effectiveness on Palestinian civilians," says the recent report penned by the 'Hamushim' human rights group, which campaigns against the occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The NGO is run by the Coalition of Women for Peace, an Israel-based group partnering with the Nobel Peace Prize-winning American Friends Service Committee.
The Israeli defense industry has a history of marketing its products after violent clashes with the Palestinians, the report says, noting that the bloody 2014 Israeli-Gaza conflict helped the companies to sell Hermes 900 Kochav drones, next-generation Hatzav tank shells and MPR500 'smart bombs.'
According to the activists, the 'Great March of Return' protests in Gaza have also helped Tel Aviv to promote new army tech. "Israeli media focused on the combat advantages of both in the military preparation for the Great March of Return and during the march itself," they wrote, noting that the clashes with the Palestinians provided an opportunity to test out Matrice 600 and Phantom 3 tear gas drones.
The models, dubbed 'Sea or Tears,' were specifically designed for the border police as crowd dispersal tools. Another type of drone introduced against the Palestinians is the so-called 'Shoko Drones,' or skunk water drones, which bombard protesters with foul-smelling and very sticky liquid. After the deployment of drones was deemed "successful," the army purchased "hundreds" of them, the activists write.