Revealed: Israeli weaponry used in Gaza blockade to be showcased at Glasgow council-sponsored arms fair

Alasdair Clark

Millitary equipment which helps to maintain the Gaza blockade will be exhibited at Glasgow’s very own arms fair later this month

THE manufacturer of an underwater detection system which helps to maintain the Gaza blockade will be exhibited at an arms fair in Glasgow this month, which is controversially backed by the SNP-led City Council.

Campaigners have slammed the ccouncil for supporting the event, previously dubbed a “carnival of militarism”, which will take place at the SEC from 26 to 28 June.

Glasgow City Council’s arms length organisation Glasgow Life succesfully applied to host the event in October 2016,  and exhibitors will set up shop in a building 91 per cent owned by Scotland’s largest local authority. The site’s front page promotes the Trident nuclear submarine, and a debate at the event will discuss the Trident Dreadnought replacement, despite previous assurances by the Council that this wouldn’t be up for discussion.

CommonSpace can now reveal further details that DSIT solutions, part owned by the Israeli state, will exhibit its flagship systems at the event which provide the technology to monitor the sea borders surrounding Gaza.

DSIT Solutions is part-owned by the Israeli state-owned weapons manufacturer Rafael, which has provided Israeli military with missiles and ballistics, who it is understood have a 50 per cent stake in DSIT Solutions.

Read More: Exclusive: Glasgow city council continues to deny arms fair Trident renewal discussion despite new programme revelations

CommonSpace understands that the technology helps to detect any attempt to get in or out of Gaza by sea, in what has been described by human rights groups as the largest open-air prison in the world.

Israel defence commanders have routinely described the technology as integral to their operations during the infamous 2014 operation “protective edge”, which saw over 2000 Palestinians killed.

The latest round of killings in Gaza, which has seen over 120 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since protests began on 30 March, has renewed scrutiny on British arms sales to Israel, which total £320m from 2014.

Glasgow council deputy leader David McDonald caused outrage amongst peace campaigners when he defended his administrations support for the event on the grounds that it included “topics that range from acoustic modelling through to energy conservation and its use in underwater environments”, a claim that led to accusations that he was trying to “whitewash” the event.

An SNP member in Glasgow speaking on condition of anonymity said on Thursday [7 June] that local members had been left angered by the support for the arms fair. 

“What I would make clear is that the people I’ve spoken to about this are completely outraged that the SNP politicians in Glasgow think its ok to support this event,” he said.

Several SNP politicians have been outspoken opponents of the arms trade, and opposition to trident is a key policy of the party’s. Despite this, DSIT Solutions will exhibit alongside BAE Systems and Babcock, the two main manufacturers of the Trident nuclear systems. Glasgow SNP MSP Sandra White has criticised the hosting of the arms fair.

Speaking to CommonSpace, White, convener of the cross party group on Palestine, said: “This arms fair has no place in Glasgow, a city twinned with Bethlehem whose people have a great deal of sympathy for the people of Palestine.

“This may be called a ‘technology conference’ but you need technology to fire the weapons that are being used to kill people indiscriminately.”

CommonSpace understands that Sandra White MSP has written a letter to council leader Susan Aitken object to the conference.

Sarah Glynn, of Jewish Voice for Peace, said: “Along with the great majority of people across Scotland, we are disgusted that Glasgow is hosting an arms fair and even more disgusted that they are providing a shop window for an Israeli company that is complicit in turning Gaza into a prison.”

“We are confident that this fair will meet with mass protests, but our politicians need to listen to the people and not to those that trade in death and destruction.”

Read More: SNP-led council accused of trying to “whitewash” arms fair

A spokesperson for Campaign Against the Arms Trade Scotland said: “The council really need to urgently rethink their support for UDT. The thought of the slogan ‘People Make Glasgow’ being used at an arms fair promoting Trident renewal is abhorrent. Never mind the fact a company directly involved in the imprisonment of the people of Gaza is exhibiting.”

“We will be joining with other groups to oppose this arms fair, both in the run up and during the event itself, in the strongest possible terms. It goes against everything Glasgow stands for.”

Nadia El-Nakla, convenor of the SNP Friends of Palestine group, said: “Occupied Palestine, Gaza in particular, has long since been a ‘proving’ ground for ‘new & innovative’ weaponry and surveillance technologies by Israel’s occupation forces, and we have absolutely no doubt that Israeli weaponry on sale at the upcoming Arms ‘Fair’ in Glasgow will go for a premium as it can be sold as having been thoroughly ‘Battle Tested’ on the Palestinian people.

“Whilst we condemn this gathering of arms dealers soon to arrive in Glasgow to spend inordinate amounts of money on new and innovative ways to kill people, we want to single out in particular those dealers and buyers from Israel in light of recent events.

“We call for an immediate 2-way arms embargo on Israel.”

Protests have been organised in opposition to the event, with a demonstration set to take place at the Buchanan Street steps on 23 June, before the main rally at the SEC on 26 June.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

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