The maker of rifles used during Israel’s recent massacres in Gaza will soon exhibit its products at an arms fair sponsored by the French government.
Amnesty International’s investigations have identified the Tavor as likely to have been one of the main guns fired by Israeli snipers attacking Palestinian demonstrators over the past two months.
As the manufacturer of that rifle, Israel Weapon Industries ought to be blacklisted by every country which professes concern for human rights.
France is one such country. Emmanuel Macron, its president, officially condemned the killing of more than 100 Palestinian demonstrators since 30 March.
His condemnation was hollow. It came as preparations were underway for the Eurosatory weapons fair in Paris.
Israel Weapon Industries is among the firms scheduled to have a display at this fair, which will open in less than two weeks’ time.
It is just one of dozens of firms from Israel’s war industry – including the top drone supplier Elbit Systems– that will be present at Eurosatory. Israel’s defense ministry is listed as an exhibitor, too.
The fair is organized by the French government, working in tandem with the national weapons lobby.
Israel Weapon Industries has been availing of similar fairs to exhibit the latest Tavor model. The official program for Eurosatory indicates that these guns will be on display.
Tool for killing
The firm may not have publicized its role in enabling the Gaza massacres. Yet its marketing material stresses that the Tavor is the “primary assault rifle” for all infantry units and “special forces” in the Israeli military.
According to the firm’s website, the Tavor was developed “in close cooperation” with Israel’s army, which has “rigorously tested” the weapon. That is a coded way of saying that the Tavor is a vital tool for killing and maiming Palestinians.
Some of the company’s promotional activities are crass. On 13 May, the US division of Israel Weapon Industries tweeted a reminder that it was Mother’s Day, before beseeching its followers to “go shooting.”
The following day, Israeli snipers shot dead around 60 demonstrators in Gaza. Later that week, the firm bragged of how its fans were “excited” about the new Tavor model.
The Amnesty finding about the probable use of Tavors in Gaza was published towards the end of April. The conclusion did not seem to dampen the spirits of Israel Weapon Industries.
Buffoonery amid the bloodshed
Soon, its representatives were delighting in the fun they had at the annual get-together of the National Rifle Association in Dallas. They were even running competitions, offering entrants a chance to win a pistol dubbed Jericho, the name of a Palestinian city under Israeli occupation.
This clowning around with the NRA took place amid an unprecedented surge in protest against the US gun lobby, led by survivors of February’s school massacre in Parkland, Florida. That revulsion would be renewed in May after another massacre at a high school, this time in Santa Fe, Texas.
The arguments for an arms embargo on Israel – as human rights groups, including Amnesty demand – have been compelling for decades. When Israel Weapon Industries resorts to buffoonery after enabling bloodshed, that case becomes immensely stronger.
The European Union has not only refused to impose an arms embargo, it is helping Israel’s arms companies to boost their sales.
The EU will send a number of senior officials to the aforementioned Paris fair.
Mihnea Motoc is among those due to speak during the conferences that accompany the exhibition. Previously a minister in Romania, he now advises Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission’s president, on stimulating the war industry.
I asked Motoc if he had any ethical concerns about endorsing an exhibition likely to feature weapons used against unarmed demonstrators. “We are not in a position to answer your questions,” his assistant replied.
Israel Weapon Industries is benefiting from the pain of Palestinians. Its “battle-tested” firearms have been bought by armies in India, Colombia, Portugal, Nigeria, Thailand and Mexico.
Over the past five years, it has invested considerable resources towards selling weapons designed for the Israeli military to North American police, as well as running training sessions on their use.
That eagerness to export the tools and tactics of the Israeli occupation is extremely disturbing. By including the maker of Israel’s sniper rifles in an arms fair, the French authorities are helping to turn massacres into marketing opportunities.
•First published by The Electronic Intifada, 31 May 2018.