In November last year, Ben Hayes of Statewatch provided written and oral testimony to the London session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

The Tribunal heard how the EU is providing research grants to Israeli military and security companies that may be complicit in Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

See the following pages for more information:

- Written evidence submitted to the London session (see page 101)
Video proceedings of the London session
– Findings of the London session

You can watch Ben Hayes’ oral testimony by clicking on the link below.

The Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) industry has grown rapidly over the past decade. Private companies and state agencies are now collecting and analysing “publicly available” data on a vast scale.

This article by Ben Hayes, published in the Statewatch Journal last year, looks at the evolution, theory and practice of OSINT; its use by police and security agencies; the rapidly developing OSINT industry; the blurring of the boundaries between OSINT and covert surveillance; and the embrace of OSINT by the EU.

The full article is available here (pdf). It concludes:

Writing recently in the Guardian, Professor John Naughton observed:

[T]he internet is the nearest thing to a perfect surveillance machine the world has ever seen. Everything you do on the net is logged – every email you send, every website you visit, every file you download, every search you conduct is recorded and filed somewhere, either on the servers of your internet service provider or of the cloud services that you access. As a tool for a totalitarian government interested in the behaviour, social activities and thought-process of its subjects, the internet is just about perfect.

The present threat to civil liberties, however, comes neither from the internet nor totalitarian governments, but from a neo-McCarthyite witchhunt for “terrorists” and “radicals”, and a private security industry bent on developing the “perfect surveillance” tools to find them. For all the concern about Facebook’s privacy policy, that company is no more responsible for its users’ wishes to ‘broadcast themselves’ than travel agents are for tourism. Of course Facebook should offer maximum privacy protection for its users, but those of us concerned with freedom and democracy need to see the bigger picture in terms of who is doing the watching, how, and why. We must then develop the tools and communities needed to bring them under democratic control.

The Security Research Division of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has published a brochure detailing cooperation between Germany and Israel in the area of civil security. It features research projects covering transport security, preparation for CBRN attacks, detection technologies, transport security, crisis management and surveillance.

Click here to view the brochure (pdf).

As with the EU Security Research Programme, in which Israel is also deeply involved, the research has the twin objectives of enhancing security and developing technologies that can be profitably brought to the rapidly expanding Homeland Security market.

As the foreword to brochure notes:

“The BMBF now funds a diverse spectrum of German-Israeli research projects… These projects thus form an important foundation for the further development of international markets for security solutions and for future collaboration in research. Productive exchange in these German-Israeli projects makes an indispensable contribution to further raising the security standards in the two countries for the benefit of the citizens”.

Unlike the EU security research programme, which also claims to be wholly focussed on “civil” security, Israel’s largest military contractors do not appear to be directly involved.

More information on EU research subsidies for Israeli military and security contractors will follow shortly…

Europe’s leading drone manufacturers have joined forces in yet another EU-funded R&D project on the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or ‘drones’. The OPARUS project brings together Sagem, BAE Systems, Finmeccanica, Thales, EADS, Dassault Aviation, ISDEFE, Israel Aircraft Industries and others to “elaborate an open architecture for the operation of unmanned air-to-ground wide area land and sea border surveillance platforms in Europe”. The consortium has received €11.8 million in EU funding.

Meanwhile IPS reports that FRONTEX has invited expressions of interest in a tender to demonstrate “Small UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and Fixed systems for Land border surveillance”.

Another article, by Dave Cronin, reports that the European Defence Agency (EDA) has now launched the SIGAT project (Study on the Insertion of UAS in the General Air Traffic), featuring EADS, Sagem, BAE and Dassault (see also previous post on the EDA’s drone programme).

Finally, Cronin’s article also notes that Sagem has entered into a “joint venture” with Elbit, the Israeli company which manufactured some of the most lethal weaponry ever used in Gaza.

The Quaker Council for European Affairs has published a briefing paper on “Security Co-operation between the EU and Israel” (pdf) – a topic that features regularly on this blog (see Israel posts).

The report makes the following policy recommendations:

  • Dual use technology, security and military research should be clearly separated from the other research areas. Industries working in the military sector should not have access to other research funds.
  • Israeli industries that profit from the occupation in Palestine should not be eligible to apply for EU funding. Israel is able to control the Palestinian territories thanks to its military supremacy which depends on the hardware and software provided by its homeland security.
  • Cut the funds for unmanned vehicles. UAV are currently banned in the European skies because of possible dangers to regular air traffic. Furthermore Israeli UAVs have been used indiscriminately against civilians during the Gaza War and therefore the EU should not subsidise Israeli UAV producers.

Ben Hayes of Statewatch will be giving evidence on EU subsidies for Israeli Homeland Security companies to the London session of the Russel Tribunal on Palestine on the 21st November 2010.

The EU is providing yet more R&D subsidies for the Israeli security-industrial complex, this time for a €15 million project entitled “Total Airport Security System” (the EC contribution is €9 million).

The Verint-led consortium promises to deliver  “multisource labyrinth fusion logic enabling situational and security awareness of the airport anytime and anywhere” (or, in other words, “total surveillance”).

According to the project synopsis:

“TASS is a multi-segment, multi-level intelligence and surveillance system, aimed at creating an entire airport security monitoring solution providing real-time accurate situational awareness to airport authorities.

The TASS concept is based on integrating different types of selected real time sensors & sub-systems for data collection in a variety of modes, including fixed and mobile, all suitable for operation under any environmental conditions. TASS divides the airport security into six security control segments (environmental, cargo, people, airplanes, vehicle-fleet & facilities) each of them being monitored by various technologies that are fused together, creating a multisource labyrinth fusion logic enabling situational and security awareness of the airport anytime and anywhere. These fused control segments will be accessed through the TASS WEB-based portal by running a suite of applications making the airport security control centralized to all airport authorities. Information will be shared and synchronized between all of them in order to generate a comprehensive, real time, security overview for the airport C2, providing all the necessary features to assure a total no breach security environment. The integration will include the use of in-place technologies that will result in a cost-effective solution.

The TASS consortium consists of 3 main end users representing 16 airports and 16 technological partners, which bring together European SME s, industrial and academic partners, ranging from sensor design and electronic communications through to civil airport protection. The technologies will be tested at 3 airports including the hub airport Heathrow, an Israeli domestic airport and Athens airport, in order to cover a wide range of needs at different levels of airport protection. The main test at Heathrow airport will involve scenarios including 2 connected to the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games in London ultimately resulting in a high & smooth passengers flow”.

In addition to Verint, the TASS consortium includes Elbit Systems Israel, the Israel Airports Authority and Ernst & Young Israel. Other consortium particpants include BAE systems, BAA (the British Airport’s Authority) and technology providers Rapiscan, Alcatel and Skysoft.

However, not everyone is happy about the amount of funds that the EU is providing to Israel for “security research” purposes (see “Should the EU subsidise Israeli security?” and “EU must end funding of Israeli military research“).

And as anyone who has ever passed through an Israeli airport on their way to the Occupied Territories might well ask, should we really be looking to Israel as a model for European security?

Article by David Cronin from IPS news, reproduced in full here

EU Considering Aid to Israeli Military

BRUSSELS, Jun 18, 2010 (IPS) – A leading Israeli supplier of warplanes used to kill and maim civilians in Gaza is in the running for two new scientific research grants from the European Union.

Israel’s attacks on Gaza in late 2008 and 2009 provided its air force with an opportunity to experiment with state-of-the-art pilotless drones such as the Heron. Although human rights groups have calculated that the Heron and other drones killed at least 87 civilians during that three-week war, EU officials have tentatively approved the release of fresh finance to the Heron’s manufacturer, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Two projects involving IAI have recently passed the evaluation stages of a call for proposals under the EU’s multi-annual programme for research, which has been allocated 53 billion euros (65.4 billion dollars) for the 2007-13 period.

The Union’s executive arm, the European Commission, has confirmed that IAI is one of 34 Israeli “partners” involved in 26 EU-funded projects for information technology which are under preparation.

Among the other Israeli firms being considered for such funding are Afcon, a supplier of metal detectors to military checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the Erez crossing between southern Israel and Gaza. Afcon was also awarded a contract in 2008 for installing a security system in a light rail project designed to connect illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem with the city centre.

Mark English, a Commission spokesman, said that the procedures relating to the projects have not yet been completed. But the Israeli business publication Globes reported last month that Israeli firms stand to gain 17 million euros from the latest batch of EU grants for information technology. According to Globes, this will bring the amount that Israel has drawn from the EU’s research programme since 2007 to 290 million euros.

Israel is the main foreign participant in the EU’s science programme. Officials in Tel Aviv say they expect Israeli firms and research institutes will have received around 500 million euros from the programme by the time of its conclusion.

Chris Davies, a British Liberal Democrat member of the European Parliament (MEP), expressed anger at how the Commission’s research department appears willing to rubber-stamp new grants for Israeli companies. Such a “business-as-usual” approach is at odds with tacit assurances from officials handling the EU’s more general relations with Israel, he said.

In late 2008, the EU’s 27 governments agreed to an Israeli request that the relationship should be “upgraded” so that Israel could have a deeper involvement in a wide range of the Union’s activities. But work on giving formal effect to that agreement has stalled because of the subsequent invasion of Gaza.

Approving EU finance for Israel Aerospace Industries “should be regarded as utterly unacceptable, incoherent and outrageously naive,” Davies told IPS. He argued that there appears to be “no communication” between different sets of EU representatives on how Israel should be handled. “Where’s the joined-up thinking?” he asked.

While the European Commission claims that all of its scientific research cooperation with Israel is civilian in nature, the Israeli government has been eager to publicise the almost umbilical links between the country’s thriving technology sector and its military. A brochure titled ‘Communications in Israel’ published by its industry ministry earlier this year refers to a “symbiosis” between the security and technology sectors in Israel. Several technology breakthroughs – such as the invention of voice recognition devices for computers by the Israeli army in the 1980s – have resulted from this “convergence”, the brochure claims.

Other likely Israeli beneficiaries of the new round of EU funding do not conceal how they have benefited from this convergence either. The Israeli subsidiary of SAP, the software manufacturer, has issued publications about how it has provided specialist equipment for the Israeli army. And both Emza and LiveU, two “start-up” companies, are examples of the numerous makers of surveillance equipment in Israel that have seen their order books fill up since the country tried to position itself as an indispensable part of the “war on terror” declared by former U.S. president George W. Bush.

Marcel Shaton, head of the Israel-Europe Research and Development Directorate (ISERD) in Tel Aviv, said that EU citizens should not have any qualms about financing Israeli arms companies. “All research supports the arms industry,” he said. “Non-military technology is used for military purposes all over the world.”

But Yasmin Khan, a specialist on the arms trade with the anti-poverty group War on Want, said that the EU has been complicit in the occupation of Palestine through its support for Israel’s military industry.

She noted that drones made by IAI and other Israeli companies have been bought by several European countries taking part in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. “The military industry is a central point of the Israeli economy,” she said. “The equipment it makes is sold as ‘battle-tested’, which is a dark way of describing its use in the occupied (Palestinian) territories.” (END)

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