Sabato, 18 Maggio 2024
The war / Israele

Europe allocates over 35 million to Israel for funding drones used in Gaza

Euro MP Pineda exposes the use of the European Defense Fund to finance the Israeli arms behemoth. However, this is not the sole instance where European resources are diverted to bolster the Tel Aviv army, in defiance of treaties

The European Union has disbursed more than 35 million euros in funding to private companies and research centres in Israel associated with the development of weapons, including drones, which the Tel Aviv army has deployed in its offensive in Gaza. This funding exceeds twice the amount previously designated to tackle the humanitarian crisis in the Strip resulting from the conflict. These findings stem from a series of inquiries and complaints filed by Member of the European Parliament, Manu Pineda.

EU funds for drones

Pineda has submitted an inquiry to the European Commission seeking clarity regarding the allocation of 8 million euros in favour of Intracom Defense, a defence company that was acquired in May 2023 by the Israeli arms giant, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The resources come from the European Defense Fund (EDF) and are intended for research and/or development of military equipment or weapons.

IAI, a state-owned company, is the largest Israeli producer of weapons and military technologies, as well as one of the global leaders in the sector. Among other things, it manufactures drones that the IDF, the Tel Aviv army, is using to bombard Gaza, such as those that mistakenly hit a humanitarian convoy last week, killing seven aid workers from the NGO WCK. "On its website, Israel Aerospace boasts of its 'proven combat experience and technology.' This is a perverse euphemism to say that their products are "tested" in Gaza and the West Bank," writes the Spanish newspaper El Diario. According to EU treaties, Brussels should not finance "expenses arising from operations with military or defence implications," unless decided unanimously by the governments of the 27 member states (which did not happen in this case).

Funds for research

The majority of the funds allocated to Israel from the EU coffers, and thus from European taxpayers, concern the research sector through Horizon Europe, the bloc's flagship fund for promoting innovation. Although not a member of the EU, Israel has benefited from access to research funding since 1995, thanks to the signing of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. A study conducted by the NGO StateWatch has identified at least four research projects that would be linked to Israel's military activities in the Palestinian territories.

One such project is the ResponDrone project, which received 8 million euros for the development of drones for civilian use. However, according to StateWatch, the research has had military applications. Then there is UnderSec, which includes Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Israeli Ministry of Defense: the project was funded by Brussels in 2023 with 6 million euros to develop systems equipped with multimodal sensors and robotic means intended for use in drone technology.

Universities serving the army

A report from the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) adds more similar projects to the list. Israel Aerospace appears, with funding (this time from Horizon) of over 2 million euros. But there is also the Israeli subsidiary of IBM, which has received over 5 million to create a population database that, according to the ECCP's accusation, serves Tel Aviv's law enforcement to monitor and suppress Palestinians. In its study, the ECCP also mentions funds to three Israeli universities that are closely linked to the military. Among these is the Hebrew University: in 2019, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz had raised the issue of the Havatzalot program, which involved creating a military base on the university campus. The program, the newspaper writes, is funded by the state and offers "a three-year training for future intelligence officers" that "includes basic combat training" and a degree. For the degree, students could choose between "Islamic and Middle Eastern studies," or a course in mathematics, economics, philosophy, or computer science.

EU funding for Israeli military and defence projects has been a subject of controversy on multiple occasions. In February, MEP Clare Daly voiced concerns regarding the allocation of EU funds for the spyware Pegasus, developed by Israel and allegedly utilised for global surveillance of journalists and politicians. In 2021, a coalition of 60 left and green MEPs urged the EU Commission to suspend Israel's involvement in Horizon Europe, citing concerns over the country's failure to uphold the values of the Union and the rights of Palestinians. "Research and innovation should not undermine respect for human rights and international law," emphasised the MEPs.

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Europe allocates over 35 million to Israel for funding drones used in Gaza

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