Protest Against Australian Arms Trade with Israel

This demonstration at the Australian Defence Department below has received no Australian mainstream media coverage as far as I am aware.

A demonstration has been held outside of the offices of the Australian Defense Department to protest the Australian government’s arms trade with Israel.

A large part of Australia’s trade with Israel is made up of contracts to buy or sell military equipment, and the two countries also share military technologies, the Press TV correspondent in Sydney reported during the on Friday.

“On the subject of boycotting the arms trade with Israel, Minister for Defense Jason Clare recoiled in horror and said, ‘That will cost jobs.’ But they are prepared to lose a thousand jobs from their own defense department, civilian jobs, to support the arms trade,” Denis Doherty of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign told the protesters.

In 2010, then Prime Minister Kevin Michael Rudd’s government signed a $300 million purchase with the Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit. These purchases were for BMS, or Battle Management Systems, complex electronics that permit integration of modern warfare technology.

Elbit claims that it provides similar technology to 20 countries worldwide.

Elbit subsidiary companies provide security systems for illegal West Bank settlements and Israel’s illegal apartheid wall. They are also the provider of the Israeli drones that are used by Britain, Canada, Australia, and many other NATO countries.

“Australia should not be trading arms with Israel, in either direction, because the two countries have fundamentally different attitudes towards the protection of civilians in warfare,” said Professor Jake Lynch from the University of Sydney.

“The reports about Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2008 and 2009 found there were multiple instances in which Israel failed to observe the principles of discrimination and proportionality, i.e., you adequately protect civilians’ bystanders. And that is linked with Israel’s refusal to adopt the principle which Australia and 80% of the international community have roughly accepted in the additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions,” he added.

Protesters argue that the Australian government should not buy from or sell military equipment to countries that implement apartheid policies toward populations under their control, occupy or wage war with neighboring nations, maintain illegally acquired and undeclared nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and carry out summary executions and collective punishment.

The protesters are demanding that the Australian government implement an arms embargo on Israel until it complies with international law and human rights conventions.

“For Australia to continue an arms trade with Israel or to cultivate it, it will be one of many things Australia does, unfortunately. It is based on an overly-narrow conception of Australian interests,” Professor Lynch stated.

Australian Defense Department and Elbit Australia have refused to comment on the issue.