Elbit Systems, the company that built the wall separating Palestine and Israel in Jerusalem’s West Bank, has received a $145 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to construct a “virtual” fence along Arizona’s border with Mexico.
The system, known as the Integrated Fixed Tower Project (IFT), will comprise of a series of security surveillance points outfitted with highly sensitive cameras and radars along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In a report released by the Homeland Security News Wire, Elbit has also recommended that, in addition to the IFT system, the United States should “adopt a more complete border security system, which combines … unmanned air systems and manned or unmanned ground vehicles to enhance agents’ flexibility and responsiveness.”
Elbit, currently Israel’s top supplier of military technologies and surveillance, is also one of the world’s top producers of unmanned military drones. Bloomberg recently reported that Elbit’s initial $145 million contract will “eventually reach $1 billion if legislation to rewrite U.S. immigration laws passes Congress and helps fund the project’s expansion in the Southwest.”
For those familiar with the effects of Elbit’s wall and surveillance systems in the West Bank, the news of the recent border contract comes as unwelcome news.
“It is no surprise that we are seeing the export of repressive Israeli tactics and technologies coming into the United States,” said Lara Kiswana, executive director of the Arab Resource & Organizing Center. “We see examples of this from the use of Israeli technology on the U.S.-Mexico border to the joint trainings between the Oakland police and Israeli military.”
In addition to the DHS border contract, Elbit, in the last year alone, has also secured $229 million for upgrades to Australia’s defense systems as well as a $290 million contract from a yet unnamed asian nation.
“These are yet more examples of how Israel has used their control of the Gaza Strip as a lab for developing new technologies which can be sold and exported to any nation in the world that has a need for controlling a civilian population,” said Dalit Baum, director of Middle East Programs at the American Friends Service Committee. “One thing too that people seem to forget these days is that, by international law, Israel’s occupation is an illegal act. This, by definition, means that Elbit and all its subsidiaries worldwide are involved in an illegal activity.”
Over recent years many financial institutions worldwide have taken notice of Elbit’s connection to the Israeli occupation.
Companies and organizations such as Deutsche Bank, Norwegian Pension Fund, and Folksam (Sweden’s largest asset manager) have decided to exclude Elbit (make it not an investment option) or divest from it (sell their investment) over its complicity providing surveillance equipment to the illegal wall in the West Bank.
The original contract for the DHS’s creation of Arizona’s electronic border surveillance system, known as Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet), was won by Boeing and began in 2006 . SBInet was initially intended to cover the entire U.S.-Mexico border, but when a failed attempt at the first 53 miles cost taxpayers $1 billion, the DHS decided to pull the plug in 2011.
“Arizonans have been waiting more than a decade for the DHS to place the needed technology along our border to support the Border Patrol and fully secure our southern border,” said U.S. Senator, John McCain. “After many months of delay, the awarding of this contract to Elbit Systems of America is an important development…and a step in the right direction.”
For those critical of the United States’ relationship with Israel, the connections aren’t seen as limited to simply being military allies, but also reflects a shared interests in the manipulation of resources as well as labor forces.
“For both the United States and Israel, the walls are used for population control and to strip people of power, hence, making them more complicit with the desires of people in power who stand to profit from their vulnerability,” said Kiswani. “A militarized U.S.-Mexico border means undocumented citizens in the United States can be further exploited because of the greater risk of deportation, and targeting by law enforcement. While in the West Bank, the Apartheid wall is used to make Palestinians, as the non-Jewish population, so miserable because of the resulting economic and social devastation, that they leave their land and homes.”
Currently no details have been released concerning the location or number of the towers scheduled for the IFT system. The project is expected to begin within the next 12 months. Elbit Systems was unavailable for comment.