The EU buys Israeli drones. They were tested in Gaza

In an effort to deepen the militarization of its borders, the EU buys military drones manufactured by Israeli companies. The drones have been battle-tested during air raids on the Gaza Strip

This article was published 31.05.2021.

Palestinians who choose to flee Israel’s technologically advanced apartheid policy and refugees from other countries are again faced with violence using military technology developed in Israel at EU borders.

Israeli military technology used to attack civilians

Following the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the death toll from Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip was 248, including 66 children. [1] At the same time, in Israel, rockets fired by Hamas killed 12 people, including two children.

While only a small fraction of Hamas’ missiles managed to penetrate the “Iron Dome” – Israel’s anti-missile defense system – Israel’s technological superiority allowed it to precisely target not only military but also civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip.

Report: Israeli authorities commit apartheid against Palestinians. Read more >>>

The Israeli attacks led to the destruction of many important places, e.g. the only COVID-19 testing laboratory in the Gaza Strip [2] and the skyscraper that housed the headquarters of international media. [3] According to Palestinian doctors from Gaza, the Israeli attacks were also aimed at killing as many civilians as possible:

 – In this war, the number of people killed is greater than the number of seriously injured. In the 2014 war, when Al-Shati Camp was attacked, there were a lot of wounded people, and we had to spend several days in operating theaters to save their lives. I am no military expert, but the main goal this time seems to be killing people. That is why we have performed fewer life-saving surgical operations – said Hani Al-Shanti, a doctor at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. [4]

Militarization of the EU’s borders and military contracts with Israel

While Israel uses its advanced technology to attack civilians in the Gaza Strip, the EU, under contracts with Israeli companies, uses the same technology to repress migrants at its borders.

In October last year, Frontex – the European Border and Coast Guard Agency -concluded a €50 million contract with Airbus and Elbit Systems, the Israeli ordnance factory. [5] As part of the contract, Frontex is to gain access to an air surveillance system using military drones. Drones constructed by Elbit Systems were used during the raids on the Gaza Strip. [6

The use of military technology to control the EU’s borders will of course not lead to the security of asylum seekers. Border surveillance replaces the physical presence of officers who have a responsibility to ensure the safety of people at Europe’s borders, e.g. through rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea. Wim Zwijnenburg of the Dutch organization Pax asks: “Are we going to now have more cameras in the sky to watch people drown in the Mediterranean?” [7]

Taking into account reports on the structural involvement of Frontex in the practice of illegal pushbacks [8] – forcible returns of migrants to countries outside the EU without giving them the opportunity to apply for asylum – and cooperation with entities such as the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, it is to be expected that observation systems will be used to improve the use of violence against migrants.

The information obtained by unmanned flights can be used to increase the number of people subjected to pushbacks. Off the coast of Libya, the information collected by the drones is transmitted to the so-called Libyan Coast Guard [9], which escorts migrants found at sea to Libyan detention camps where torture is widespread. We wrote more about cooperation between the EU and the so-called Libyan Coast Guard and resistance against such practices here >>>.

Repressions against Palestinians, repressions against migrants

The Palestinian campaign Stop the Wall, which works against Israel’s apartheid policy, called on EU countries to immediately break military contracts with Israel and abandon their policy of militarizing their borders. [10] According to members of the campaign, military cooperation with Israel means direct support and joint responsibility for the Israeli apartheid, the occupation of Palestine, and war crimes committed by Israel. We wrote more about the Israeli apartheid policy here >>>.

He wanted a better life for his son. Now he is accused of killing him. Read the story of Afghan migrant father here >>>

It is not difficult to see the parallels between the rhetoric used by Israeli and European nationalists towards, respectively, Palestinian people and migrants. Both groups, repressed and discriminated, are portrayed as a threat to justify human rights violations, limiting civil liberties, and increasing spending on armed forces and the police at the expense of the social policy. As a consequence of these narratives, society allows the use of technologically advanced military equipment against groups that have no means of defense.

Palestinians fleeing Israel’s apartheid policies and refugees from other countries on Europe’s borders again face violence fueled by advanced military technology. The EU’s military cooperation with Israel leads not only to maintaining the apartheid regime in Israel but also to adopting the use of violence as a structural part of the EU’s border control policy.

You do not agree with this policy, and you want the politicians in the EU representing you to refrain from military cooperation with Israel? You can sign the Stop the Wall petition here >>>.

Militarization of EU borders and walls

Despite the EU’s desire to ensure full control of its borders through increasingly advanced civil and military technologies, walls, which for centuries have been a tool for demarcation and repression of discriminated groups, are still an important part of the European policy against migrants. Just now, walls are being built around Ritsona, Polykastro, Diavata, Malakasa, and Nea Kavala refugee camps in Greece.

“For me, the border is not crossing mountains, sea, or desert. Nor is it crossing from one country to another. The border cuts you in isolation from the rest of the world. When you are not allowed to speak, act, or take part in life,” [11] writes Parwana Amiri, an Afghan poet fighting in the Ritsona Camp for the refugees’ right to education.

Parwana was the guest of our Migration Snapshot [Pol. “Migawka Migracyjna”]. See our conversation about the wall in Greek refugee camp here >>>

In the eyes of nationalist politicians from EU countries, locking refugees in ghettos surrounded by walls may achieve some short-sighted goals. It is clear to those affected by this practice that separating them from the rest of the world has serious consequences. Those include increased exposure to mental diseases, restricted access to education, or denied possibility of speaking on one’s own behalf.

You do not agree to the explicit policy of discrimination against asylum seekers pursued by the Greek government? Sign a petition demanding an immediate end of building walls around camps in Greece >>>.

Jakub Bieniasz – in Serbia, he supports people trying to cross the borders of Fortress Europe. He is documenting the use of violence against migrants. Operates within the organization No Name Kitchen and Border Violence Monitoring Network. Member of the Salam Lab team. Student of the Arabic Studies.

Trans. Justyna Siwiec – philologist and translator. Food and music lover interested in the history and culture of the Middle East. Member of the Salam Lab team. Follow Justyna on Instagram: @siwcowe.


[1] Khuloud Rabah Sulaiman, Gaza attacks: Fear, finality, and farewells as bombs rained down, “Al-Jazeera”,

[2] Adam Rasgon, An Israeli airstrike damaged Gaza’s only lab for processing coronavirus tests, officials said“The New York Times”,

[3] Jagoda Grondecka, O Izraelu i moralnym prawie do obrony [POLISH],

[4] Hana Adli, They aim to kill’: Gaza doctors recount experiences as war rages, “Al-Jazeera”,

[5] TED Europa.

[6] Kaamil Ahmed, EU accused of abandoning migrants to the sea with shift to drone surveillance, “The Guardian”,

[7] Kaamil Ahmed, EU accused of abandoning migrants to the sea with shift to drone surveillance, “The Guardian”,

[8] Eva Cossé, Frontex Turns a Blind Eye to Greece’s Border Abuses, “Human Rights Watch”,

[9] Alarm Phone, Borderline Europe, Mediterranea – Saving Humans, Sea-Watch, Remote control. The EU-Libya collaboration in mass interceptions of migrants in the Central Mediterranean,

[10] Stop the Wall, Enough is Enough: Say no to EU policies and cooperation with Israel!,

[11] Follow Parwana Amiri on Instagram.

Cover photo: Israeli soldier is learning how to use Skylark drone on Negev desert. Credit: Zev Marmorstein, IDF Spokesperson’s Unit via Wikipedia Commons.

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