What is Elbit Systems?
Elbit Systems is one of Israel’s largest security and defense firms, specializing in military electronics, surveillance systems, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones) and homeland security systems. It supplies the Occupation military, navy and air force with a variety of equipment, and has profited greatly from Israel’s numerous attacks and assaults on the Palestinian and Lebanese people. Gaza and southern Lebanon in particular serve as testing grounds for Elbit’s weapons and technology, as it continually develops and enhances its products based on the expertise gained by the attacks on the people in these areas.
Elbit and its various subsidiaries contribute directly to two of the most insidious facets of the occupation: the indiscriminate assaults on civilian populations, through the provision of UAVs and other military equipment to Occupation forces; and the ever-tightening ghettoization of the West Bank, through the provision of surveillance and electronics systems along the Apartheid Wall and settlements.
Like all Israeli firms operating in the military technology sector, endless war and occupation create valuable marketing opportunities. Elbit UAVs, for instance, can be sold on the global market as “battle tested” devices, significantly increasing their appeal and leading to their adoption by a number of international militaries. In the same vein, experience gained from the building and maintenance of the Wall in the West Bank directly contributed to Elbit winning a contract to provide technology for the US-Mexico border wall.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Elbit’s primary UAV models are the Skylark and the larger Hermes models, the latter of which can be reportedly outfitted with two missiles. Drones, in addition to their use for scouting and tracking targets, were used in some of the more horrific incidents in the 2006 war on Lebanon and the 2008-2009 war on Gaza. They are also employed for extrajudicial killing. The high number of civilian deaths cannot be said to be accidental, as the UAVs are equipped with highly advanced optics that allow the remote operator to see the details of an individual’s clothing, and to clearly distinguish between civilian and combatant.
GAZA, DEC. 2008 – JAN. 2003
In the 23-day assault on Gaza alone, missiles fired from drones were directly attributed to the killing of 78 Palestinians (29 children), and wounding 73. .Some instances of UAVs being used to attack civilians include:
January 3: 15 Palestinians were killed and 30 were wounded when a drone fired at the Martyr Ibrahim al-Maqadma Mosque, where they were praying.
January 14: a total of 27 Palestinians, 6 of whom were children, were killed in a series of UAV strikes.
January 18: At 8:30 am, hours after the ceasefire allegedly came into effect, a drone fired two missiles on the Amai area east of Beit Hanoun, killing an11 year-old girl and her mother.
An investigation after the war also found evidence of a new type of weapon being fitted on the unmanned drones, designed to cause maximum injury. It explodes with enough intensity to rip a person into pieces, while large numbers of tiny sharp-edged metal cubes embed themselves deeply inside the body.
In one instance on January 16, 2009, six members of the al-Jarah family were killed instantly when they were fired upon by this new missile as they were having tea in the courtyard outside their home.
LEBANON, SUMMER 2006
Palestinians are not the only population upon which offensive UAVs are used. During the 2006 war on Lebanon, which killed 1,200 people and injured 4,500, UAVs were used to commit numerous attacks on civilians.
On July 23, 2006, a missile fired from a UAV hit two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances in Qana that were transporting wounded individuals. Six ambulance drivers and three patients were wounded in the attack.
Also on July 23, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a van carrying 17 people from Sh’aito family who were fleeing their homes in al-Tiri. Three family members died and 14 were wounded.
On August 11, 2006, hundreds of civilian cars gathered from Marja’youn and the surrounding villages to flee northwards from the fighting. Two UNIFIL armored personnel carriers escorted the convoy. Near the Beka” Valley, an Israeli UAV fired on the convoy, killing seven people and wounding 32.
EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS, 2000 – 2008
The assault on Gaza was by no means the first time in which UAVs were used against Palestinians. Over the last several years, they have become a key means in extrajudicial killing. From September 2000 until June 2008, 745 Palestinians were murdered in this fashion, including 233 bystanders (71 of whom were children).
In September 2006, for example, a drone fired at a car in the al-Junaina neighbourhood, killing two people and injuring 26 bystanders, including 5 children.
Other Military Equipment
Technology for Lizard laser-guided bombs: According to a war crimes report done after the bombardment of Gaza, many fragments of laser-guided bombs were found on streets, in school playgrounds, in hospitals, and in people’s homes.
MARS handheld thermal imager and target acquisition system: Used by Occupation ground troops in close combat and urban warfare scenarios, such as the Gaza Strip, where 82% of those who were killed were civilians.
Falcon sighting device: According to the Golani Brigade, a unit which has been using the Falcon for some time, the sight has “led to a noticeable improvement in accuracy and thus killing power by the average rifleman.” The Golani Brigade is notorious for its horrendous treatment of Palestinians; it has inflicted countless civilian casualties since it was formed in 1948. It was involved in the 2002 massacre in the Jenin refugee camp, has perpetrated invasions and assassinations in Gaza since 2003, and was involved in some of the heaviest fighting in Gaza City during the recent assault.
Elbit and the Apartheid Wall
Security systems manufactured by Elbit and it’s subsidiaries have been integral in the creation of Apartheid Wall across the West Bank
LORROS surveillance cameras are developed by Elbit and its subsidiaries and incorporated in electronic detection fences and for the Wall in the Jerusalem area, as well as around the Ariel settlement bloc.
Elbit also develops un-manned ground vehicles, which are used to help patrol routes along the buffer zone.
Finally, the TORC2H system is designed to enhance border patrol activities by collecting data and disseminating it to troops, is installed in a central command centre, facilitating remote surveillance of specific areas along the Wall.
All of this contributes to the Wall, which is primarily means of land theft, annexing land and vital water resources. Together with the settlements, military zones, ditches and bypass roads, it will de facto annex nearly 50% of West Bank land, and divide the territory into six ghettoes.
In particular, Elbit technology is being used at the Wall and settlements around Jerusalem and aid in the sealing the city off from the West Bank.
Global War Profiteering
In 2006 Elbit systems American subsidiary Kollsman Inc. was award-ed a contract to participate in the construction of the US-Mexico border wall,which will extend across California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Elbit will contribute to the “virtual wall”, installing its Border Control and Management System (BCMS)which will control all border movements.
Elbit has also been successful in selling avionic technology internationally.South Korea, Brazil, Colombia, Turkey as well as several other European and Asian countries are among the largest customers. In2008 the firm made serious inroads in Turkey, signing several massive contracts.
The export of UAV technology has also figured prominently into Elbit’s profits. Tried and tested on the people of Palestine and Lebanon, these drones have found buyers across the globe. Some of the larger customers have been Turkey, Australia and a number of European countries. Drones are employed extensively in the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
A key component for UAVs are manufactured for Elbit in the UK. UAV Engines Ltd (UEL), based near Birmingham, has stated that it manufactures the engines for Hermes 450.
Elbit Around the World
USA: The US Department of Homeland Security selected Elbit to be one of the primary firms involved in building its wall along the US-Mexico border.
UK: Elbit was awarded £800 million to begin a joint venture with Thaïes UK to develop a new UAV for the British military. Also, engines used in the Hermes 450 are manufactured by a Birmingham company.
Australia: Since 2005, Australia has deployed the Skylark IV in Iraq, which is one of Elbit’s unmanned drone models.
Poland: Elbit received a $3 million order from the Polish Ministry of Defense to equip Polish army vehicles in Iraq with anti-IED devices.
Turkey: In 2005, Elbit and Israel Aircraft Indus-tries won an estimated $150 million contract to supply UAVs to the Turkish military.
Canada: In 2006, Canada made an emergency purchase of at least five of Elbit’s Skylark mini-UAVs for deployment in southern Afghanistan.
Brazil: Elbit and Brazil have signed several contracts worth nearly $190 million in total.
Slovenia: The Slovenian government selected Elbit to enhance its Armored Vehicle Program.
Romania: Elbit was awarded a contract to supply unmanned turrets and electro-optics systems valued at approximately $15 million.
Colombia: In July of 2006, Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer selected Elbit to supply systems for the Colombian Air Force.
France: The Skylark I UAV was sold to France in 2008 for “counter-terrorism” purposes and border security.
Netherlands: The Netherlands Ministry of Defense selected Elbit to supply the Royal Nether-lands Army with advanced Battlefield Management Systems, to be installed in tanks, armoured vehicles, and others.
South Korea: In December of 2007, Elbit was selected to supply the Korean military with the Skylark II UAV.
Elbit has many subsidiaries around the world, most of which are also heavily involved in the security and defense industries.By placing their focus on lucrative military deals with various countries, these subsidiaries have helped to establish Elbit’s position as one of the world’s largest war profiteers.
Elbit Systems Electro-optics Ltd. (Elop): Designs, manufactures and supports electro-optics systems and products, mainly for defense, space and homeland security uses. Has deals with Israeli, American, Turkish, German, and Korean militaries. Based in Rehovot, Israel.
Elisra: Supplies advanced technologies and systems in the electronic defense market, specializing in intelligence, infrared,and communications systems. Has deals with Israeli, Korean,Portuguese, Venezuelan and Polish militaries. Based in BneiBrak, Israel.
Tadiran Communications: Produces military communications systems and technologies for all combat environments.Has deals with Israeli, American, Azerbaijan, as well as various European and Asian militaries. Based in Petah Tiqwa, Holonand Kiryat Shmona, Israel, with subsidiaries in Germany and the USA.
Kollsman: Provides advanced electro-optical and avionics sys-tems , including to the military and homeland security markets,and military force protection applications for border control and homeland security. Has numerous contracts with US mili-tary, and is involved in building the wall on the US-Mexico border. Based in New Hampshire, USA.
Aeroeletronica S/A: Supplies avionics systems and logistical support for the security, defense and military industries. Has a major contract with the Brazilian Air Force. Based in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Elbit Security Systems Ltd. (ELSEC): Operates in the fields of homeland security, electro-optic surveillance systems, E-fences, border and coastal security systems, transportation se-curity systems and pipeline security. Has contracts with Israeli military, including for provision of LORROS security system along the Wall, as well as with various European countries.Based in Sderot, Israel.
UAV Tactical Systems (U-TacS): Heavily involved in the UKWatchkeeper program, designed to develop a new generation of UAVs based on Elbit’s Hermes 450. Based in Leicester, UK.
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Elbit Systems Fact Sheet