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British police consider deploying Israeli drones used in Gaza military operations: report

British police tested the drone at an airfield in Wales [National Police Air Service]

Date of publication: 25 September, 2020

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Police in the United Kingdom are considering using an Israeli drone which was utilised against Palestinians in the 2014 operation on the besieged Gaza Strip.
British police have tested a drone produced by Israeli arms company Elbit, Electronic Intifida reported, with plans under consideration to deploy the killer drones in operations currently completed by helicopters.

The United Kingdom's National Police Air Service said last week it had "made use of the Elbit Systems Hermes 900 as part of a wider trial".

The trials, held with police input and funding from the Home Office, trialed the unmanned aircraft in a "series of simulated typical police aviation scenarios currently fulfilled by the existing national fleet of helicopters and aeroplanes," the statement read. 

"If this technology enables us to fulfil our national remit more efficiently and either as or more effectively than with our current assets, then it will be considered as part of a future national police air service fleet," said Captain Ollie Dismore, Director of Flight Operations at the National Police Air Service.

The drone test, which took place at an airfield in Wales, aimed to "explore how this technology might be used to deliver public safety in support of the police forces".

But The Network for Police Monitoring has raised concerns that the UK police would buy drones from "an Israeli company that touts its products as "field-proven" on Palestinians".

The network said it was "horrified by the prospect of the police using drones in Britain, which will massively increase the capacity for intrusive surveillance on the public".

The Hermes 900 drone produced by Elbit - Israel's biggest private arms manufacturer - was used during Israel's attack on the besieged Gaza Strip in 2014.

British Palestinian activist Huda Ammori told Electronic Intifida: "Police using Elbit technology to surveil UK citizens is further evidence of the UK state enabling and facilitating Israeli apartheid over holding Elbit to account for their blatant complicity in facilitating war crimes".

"It's up to the people to take direct action against Elbit Systems," Ammori added.

Ammori works with Palestine Action - a pro-Palestinian group that has stage several protest at Elbit factories in the United Kingdom. 

In July last year, activists from Manchester Palestine Action and other groups occupied the rooftop of Israeli arms company Elbit Ferranti in Oldham for three-days running.

Elbit is known for the production of drones, which they describe as the "backbone" of Israel's fleet.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem last month. 

Raab reportedly announced that he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had "agreed to deepen the UK-Israel cutting-edge tech and science partnership", according to the lobby group Conservative Friends of Israel.

"No government that is concerned about human rights would do business with a company like Elbit Systems and the UK must abandon these plans immediately," Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Ben Jamal said, according to Electronic Intifida.

When Raab was in Israel, he greeted Israel's normalisation deal with the UAE and sought to convince the Palestinians to resume peace talks with the Jewish state.

The Palestinians see the UAE's move as a "stab in the back" while their own conflict with the Jewish state remains unresolved.

Agencies contributed to this report

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