Since 2020, World without Walls – Europe, a loose network of PAlestine solidarity, anti-militarization and migrants rights groups across Europe, have been campaigning against the EU’s use of Elbit Systems drones and Israeli weapons and military techniques more generally within the framework of its brutal closing off of borders and seashores in front of migrants.
Since 2018 Frontex and EMSA have contracted Elbit and IAI military drones. Elbit Systems develops its drones together with the Israeli military and promotes its technology as field tested – on Palestinians. It provides 85% of the drones used by Israel in its repeated military assaults and continued inhumane siege and attacks on Gaza.
In 2020 Greece announced it will lease Heron drones from IAI to expand its border security capacity. Later in that year, Frontex announced it awarded a €50 million contract to Airbus (with IAI as subcontractor) and Elbit for providing drone surveillance flights in the Mediterranean in the next two years. With these contracts Frontex takes new steps in its border security work, the expansion of its role in EU migration and border policies and in acquiring its own equipment instead of relying on that of EU member states. For refugees trying to cross the Mediterannean this can have more devastating consequences.
The World without Walls – Europe network handed the EU a petition signed by more than 7000 European citizens joined 22 human rights organizations in demanding that the EU defund Frontex to end the EU’s criminal anti-migration policy and end military ties with Israel. They denounced how
“European governments and institutions are not only silent in front of Israeli apartheid, they are actively condoning, supporting and profiting from it, while at the same time enforcing their own systems of segregation against and confinement of migrants and refugees within its own borders.
European governments and transnationals implement and profit from the policies of war and economic exploitation that continue to displace people every day – whether in Palestine or across the world.”
In 2020, World without Walls – Europe launched its first petition to challenge the EU’s use of Elbit drones. The petition was endorsed by some Members of the European Parliament and has been promoted by a broad alliance of 46 civil society organizations from all across Europe, including Palestine solidarity, anti-militarization, migrant rights groups, unions and more.
Over 10 000 citizens from all over Europe and beyond have signed a petition to demand an end to a drones deal between the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and Israel’s largest military company Elbit Systems. EMSA leases, through the Portuguese company CeiiA, two Hermes 900 ‘killer drones’. The €59 million deal started in November 2018 and is up for renewal within the coming months. The signatories also demand EU member states to refuse the usage of these drones in their airspace.
Aneta Jerska, the coordinator of the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) said that, especially during the worst moments of the COVID pandemic:
“European citizens demand #HealthcareNotWarfare from the European Union. Commissioner Valean stated that any further use of the drones will be evaluated “in view of the available budget”.It is key for the EU to understand there is no budget for Israeli military companies.
The demand is ever more urgent in view of the impending de jure annexation of large parts of the West Bank by Israel, that run counter to international law and the EU’s long standing positions. Palestinians call for effective measures, including an end to military and security cooperation, and reminding the international community not to aid or assist the illegal situations created by Israel.”
By November 2020, the Portuguese company CeiiA had decided not to renew the lease of two drones from Israeli arms company Elbit for border patrol and other missions for the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
Aneta Jerska (ECCP) from World Without Walls Europe underlined:
“The end of the use of Elbit drones by EMSA shows that public pressure has impact to stop unethical practices and shed light on the atrocious sales strategies of Israeli arms companies.”
“The new Frontex contract and the increasing use of drones, many of them from Israeli companies, for targeting refugees at Europe’s borders mean that we need to build much more pressure to stop Europe’s deadly anti-migration politics and the EU’s financing of Israel’s military industry.”