European countries are increasingly purchasing weapons from Israeli arms manufacturers, which are promoting their products on the grounds that they have been “field-tested” against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, a report says.
The report, carried by AFP on Friday, said Israeli arms manufacturers are increasingly seeing boosts to their sales to European countries as the latter have increased their military budgets in the face of 'perceived threats from Russia', recent terrorist attacks in Europe, and the continuing flow of refugees into the continent.
Military budgets across Europe are expected to grow by 8.3 percent this year, according to a recent report by a group of European think tanks, including the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs.
Twenty nine Israeli arms makers displayed their military technologies earlier this week at the Eurosatory conference in Paris, one of the world’s largest land defense exhibitions.
Israeli exports to France have surged despite Paris’s strong criticism of continued Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank as well as promoting a “peace initiative” that the Israelis oppose.
According to the report, French purchases of weaponry from Israeli firms more than doubled in 2015 compared to a year earlier, amounting to $355 million.
In 2016, Israel is projected to overtake Italy as the world’s seventh-largest weapons exporter, the report says, citing IHS Jane’s.
Many of the Israeli arms technologies being sold to Europe are used in the repression of Palestinians, including in the destructive 2014 war on the besieged and densely-populated Gaza Strip. The war left over 2,200 dead — mostly civilians — while injuring thousands more and displacing nearly 500,000 people, according to UN figures.
The “piloting” of the Israeli arms is considered an “edge,” the report indicates.
“Indeed for companies, this experience is often a major selling point,” it said.
Meanwhile, US-based rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized the purchase of field-tested Israeli weapons, saying that the group has documented “violations of the rules of war that appear to rise to the level of war crimes in Gaza using some of these weapons.”
Referring to the “piloting” of the Israeli weapons against Palestinians, Sari Bashi, HRW’s Israel and Palestine director, said, “That kind of field experience is not something I would be proud of.”