The Guardian • Issue #2079



Expel the Merchants of Death

Hannah Middleton

War is good for business. Armaments corporations are raking in billions from death, suffering, and destruction.

It is time the Albanese government found some courage and morality, and expelled Israeli arms companies from Australia.

ELBIT is an international high technology company with offices in Brisbane and Melbourne, and staff in Queensland, the ACT, and Victoria.

Established in 2010, Elbit Systems of Australia Pty Ltd claims to be “a trusted supplier” to AUKUS, the Five Eyes Alliance, NATO, and QUAD countries.

The company says its major activities include “military aircraft and helicopter systems, naval systems, land vehicle systems, munitions, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, cyber systems, electronic warfare, and signal intelligence systems.”

The Victorian government announced a partnership with Elbit Systems Australia in February 2021. This involved establishing an artificial intelligence development centre in Melbourne. In June 2022. It became clear the project would be co-run by RMIT University.

Anti-Bases activists in Sydney and students in Melbourne had been demonstrating against Elbit for several years because of the company’s involvement in making cluster bombs and white phosphorus weapons, both illegal.

A weekly picket against the RMIT deal has been held on the university campus for eight and a half months. On 19 October, two weeks into the Gaza genocide, Students for Palestine held a larger protest.

RMIT has since stated that it has terminated its relationship with Elbit and that it no longer has any dealings with any of its subsidiaries.

RAFAEL is one of Israel’s three largest defence companies. The Israeli Ministry of Defense owns and oversees Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Rafael has a new office in Melbourne, “managed by an Israeli and local team.”

Several Rafael systems have been in use for years by the Australian Army, including remote-controlled weapon stations, naval systems, and aerial attack guidance systems.Rafael Australia has a contract with the Australian government to provide the Australian Defence Force with the next generation of Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) systems, such as the SPIKE LRT Anti-Tank Guided Missile.

VRA, a joint venture between Varley (headquartered in Tomago in Newcastle) and Rafael, is keen to profit from future local manufacturing options proposed in the Defence Strategic Review and through AUKUS and says “it is working towards at least 70 new Australian jobs through the development and delivery of cutting edge Australian produced sovereign capabilities.”

Rafael has signed agreements with Australian company Bisalloy for the supply of metals for the manufacture of military systems.

In 2019 peace activists and Wollongong University students protested outside the Bisalloy office in Unanderra against a $900,000 defence contract which Bisalloy signed with Rafael to provide around 200 tonnes of steel used to make armoured fighting vehicles.

“We should not be aiding or abetting such a company in its war crimes,” a student activist said then. The sale of weapons to Israel by Australian companies must also be stopped immediately. Australian complicity with Israeli illegal collective punishment and war crimes must be stopped.

This year, the Albanese government has provided 52 defence export permits to the Israeli government. Australia should not be helping to arm Israeli war crimes so a small number of arms dealers can make money.

The Greens are calling on the Federal government to immediately stop military exports to Israel and to provide clear and transparent information on military exports that have already been provided and to ensure that Australia is not fuelling war crimes by providing military equipment. They stress that fuelling conflict through exporting military equipment only continues violence at a time when most of the world is desperately calling for a ceasefire.

Caitlin Johnston condemns a society in which “war profiteers get to steer public policy, where the entire biosphere is being fed into the wood chipper of global capitalism while we rapidly accelerate toward nuclear armageddon.”

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