Shir Hever: Israel continues to reject Hamas’s offer of a ten-year ceasefire because it would undermine Israeli arms sales, which reached $7 billion in 2012
JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.
Now joining us to give us a special report on the Israeli military-industrial complex is our guest, Shir Hever. Shir is an economic researcher for the Alternative Information Center, a Palestinian-Israeli organization.
Thanks for joining us, Shir.
SHIR HEVER, ECONOMIST, ALTERNATIVE INFORMATION CENTER: Thank you for having me, Jessica.
DESVARIEUX: So, Shir, the violence continues in Gaza, and it begs the question, who is actually profiting from this war?
HEVER: I have to say it feels very cynical to talk about economy and profiteers when we’re talking about such a massive human tragedy and so many people killed–murdered, actually. But I think it is very important to understand the economic aspect of it, because it also tells us a little bit why, why this is happening, and maybe also gives us an idea of what is required in order to stop it.
We’ve seen in the last couple of years a pattern. Every two years or so, the Israeli military attacks Gaza, attacks the Gaza Strip, and causes a lot of destruction. But right after each one of those attacks, there is a trade show in which Israeli weapon companies show their wares, show their technologies, and boast that these are the very technologies that have been used just now against Palestinians in Gaza. We saw that after the attack of 2008-2009, known as Cast Lead, where the main theme was those robots that go into houses to look around corners. Then we saw that again in the attack of 2012, which was called Pillar of Cloud, in which the main theme was the Iron Dome system that can intercept the Palestinian rockets. And now, in the current attack, we have again the Iron Dome system that is supposed to intercept rockets.
And all of these Israeli companies, which are becoming an increasingly important and very significant part of the Israeli export system and the Israeli economy, depend on those wars. They depend on periodic fighting where they can showcase their equipment, their technology. And the first thing that they say when they try to market whatever it is that they develop: we’ve already used that on actual human beings. And by making that claim, they’re able to compete with weapon manufacturers from other countries.
DESVARIEUX: But, Shir, which companies are we talking about here? And are any of them connected to the United States?
HEVER: One of the major companies that we’re talking about is Israeli Aerospace Industries. This company, there was a little article about it in the newspaper just two days ago that right now, in the middle of this attack, they’ve issued a call–they’ve issued bonds and tried to raise finance in order to expand the company and increase their production. And they were able to raise $132 million in just one week, which comes up as $132,000 per Palestinian killed in this attack. By now, there are more Palestinians who have been killed, but by now the company’s also sold additional bonds. And this company sees a direct relation between the violence against Gaza and the ability of this company to find new markets for its products.
Another very prominent company is called Elbit Systems. This is a very famous Israeli company which specializes in drones. And, of course, they’re also very active in this war.
All of these companies are also extremely connected to the United States. And the United States is the biggest supplier of aid, military aid to Israel. And this military aid comes in the form of weapons, actually. So these military companies have learned to work in symbiosis with the U.S. arms industry so that they develop their technologies together in order to provide components which are produced in Israel and work with U.S.-manufactured weapons. So, in fact, this war is not, this attack on Gaza is not just a trade show for the Israeli arms industry; it’s also a trade show for the United States arms industry. And the demand for weapons always increases every time Israel goes into another cycle of violence in the Middle East.
I think there’s one point that is very important to make, though, because through understanding the importance of the arms trade to this conflict, we can also understand why the Hamas Party has made its ceasefire proposition, joined with the Islamic Jihad about two weeks ago, in which they offered a ten-year ceasefire. Now, Hamas is [an] acronym for Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah, which means the Islamic resistance movement. Their whole idea is to resist the occupation. And they basically said in their ceasefire offer, we’re willing to stop resisting the occupation for ten years. And I think they only could make that offer because they knew that Israel would not accept it. They knew that the Israeli arms industry is so dependent on these cycles of attacks every two years that Israel will never accept a ten-year ceasefire, because it would be a deadly blow to the Israeli arms industry.
DESVARIEUX: Alright. Shir Hever, very, very interesting analysis. Thank you so much for joining us.
HEVER: Thank you for having me.
DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.