Screenshot from Elbit Systems video promoting its “proven” border surveillance technologies.
One of the two lead contractors for Israel’s apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank, Elbit Systems, has won a $145 million contract from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide similar systems on the Mexico-US border.
This is the second time Elbit, which tests its technology on Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, has won a major US border surveillance contract.
SBInet was to provide surveillance and communications technology to increase the US presence on the Mexico-US border. Elbit was subcontracted by Boeing through Kollsman, one of Elbit’s US-based subsidiaries, to provide the project’s camera and radar systems.
Work on the contract halted in 2008 and DHS officially canceled SBInet in January, 2011.
Dividing indigenous land
The new DHS contract calls for “Integrated Fixed Tower systems” that will “assist [Border Patrol] agents in detecting, tracking, identifying and classifying items of interest” along the border. This contract largely reprises Elbit’s role in the Boeing contract. Initial installations will be in Arizona.
Both the US and Israeli projects affirm settler-state partitions of indigenous land: Palestinian land in the Israeli case and Tohono O’odham land in Arizona.
The Tohono O’odham Nation is just one of several indigenous nations facing further partition because of US and Mexican border policies.
And both projects intend to stop the movement of persons under the guise of “security.”
Tested on Palestinians
Elbit tests its technology in Palestine so deployment in an analogous circumstance for the US is unsurprising.
The Elbit Systems of America 2012 promotional video above, for instance, boasts of “Proven Technology, Proven Security” and “10+ years securing the world’s most challenging borders.” Israel began building its apartheid wall in the early 2000s and the structure was declared to be illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004.
The video also says Elbit’s technology has been “operationally tested on the US Southwest Border.”
The video shows maps of Arizona and images of human walking through landscape, on military-style displays.
The Arizona border was also the site of a 2004 contract where Elbit provided Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — commonly known as drones — to the Border Patrol in the first significant deployment of UAVs for US border surveillance.
In addition to the US settler state furthering the partition of indigenous land, the DHS contract also affirms anti-Latin@ racism in the relations between the US and Mexico, and is just one example where Elbit and other Israeli firms play roles in “securing” wealthier European borders against migrants from poorer Black and Brown nations.