British police may deploy Israeli drone used to kill Palestinians

British police tested the killer Israeli drone at an airfield in Wales.

National Police Air Service

Police in the United Kingdom have tested a killer Israeli drone and may deploy it along with the helicopters they use for tracking protesters and general surveillance.

The National Police Air Service announced last week that it had “made use of the Elbit Systems Hermes 900 as part of a wider trial.”

Elbit is Israel’s biggest private arms manufacturer.

Their Hermes 900 drone was first deployed in 2014 to bomb Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Israel’s 51-day assault killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 550 children.

Although British police have previously used small battery-powered drones, this would reportedly be the first time they have deployed military grade unmanned aircraft.

Huda Ammori, a British Palestinian activist with the group Palestine Action, reacted with disgust.

“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,” she told The Electronic Intifada.

“It’s up to the people to take direct action against Elbit Systems,” she said.

“Horrified”

Palestine Action has staged several recent protests against Elbit facilities in the UK. They shut down Elbit’s Shenstone factory by holding a rooftop sit-in for three days this month.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Ben Jamal said: “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.”

Foreign minister Dominic Raab held meetings with Israeli ministers in Jerusalem last month.

One of them demanded that the British government end protests against Elbit in the UK, calling the actions part of the “delegitimization campaign against Israel [that] has become widespread throughout Europe and the world, including in England.”

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

The Network for Police Monitoring has also raised concerns, saying it was horrified that the police would consider buying weapons from “an Israeli company that touts its products as ‘field-proven’ on Palestinians and has collaborated on surveillance on Native American reservations in the United States.”

The independent police watchdog said that the drones would “massively increase the capacity for intrusive surveillance on the public.”

The police meanwhile say 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.”

Unsurprisingly, the police press release did not mention the Palestinians killed by the Hermes 900.

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.