Elbit is one of the most important suppliers to the Israeli Military; in 2010 the company was awarded contracts by the Israeli Ministry of Defense worth approximately $650 million. The IMOD and Elbit are working closely together; through the Israeli Defense Entities Law, Elbit is designated as a "defense entity" and is thus subject to certain restrictions and conditions of the Israeli government chiefly concerning its "means of control" (see 2010 Annual Report). A variety of Elbit's products have been the focus of international investigation; some are in clear violation of international law.
Involvement in the construction of the Separation Wall
The Separation Wall
, which is twice as long as the Green Line (internationally recognized border between Israel and Palestinian territories) zig zags into occupied Palestinian land, annexing a further 10% of the West Bank to Israel and closing off entire communities into fenced enclaves. Declared illegal, this wall prevents Palestinians from having access to water sources and vital services. For this illegal wall, Elbit and its subsidiaries Elbit Electro-Optics (El-Op) and Elbit Security Systems (Ortek) are supplying surveillance systems such as the LORROS (Long-Range Reconnaissance and Observation System). As Grassroots International notes
, it is estimated that Elbit makes over $2 million per kilometer (more than one million dollars per mile) in the construction of the Wall, which makes Elbit one of the primary profiteers from this illegal contract.
Unmanned Weapon Systems
Through its purchase
of UAS Dynamics, Elbit Systems has the capabilities to produce Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) for surveillance and combat actions. The Israeli military has been using Elbit's Hermes 450 for nearly 10 years as the Army's main UAS system. In 2010, Elbit won a $50 million contract
to provide Israel with additional Hermes 450 as well as the newer Hermes 900 over the next three years. Both models are able to carry weapons such as Hellfire or Spike missiles
. Israel has used
Hermes UAS models as combat drones in the 2006 Lebanon War. A cable published by Wikileaks confirmed that Israel also used armed UAVs in the 2008 Operation Cast Lead. In this cable, General Mandeblit states: "[T]he facts were known: A UAV shot at two Hamas fighters in front of the mosque and 16 casualties resulted inside the mosque due to an open door through which shrapnel entered during a time of prayer." In Human Rights Watch's report titled "Precisely Wrong"
, it is clear that Elbit's Hermes 450 and 900 equipped with two Spike-MR missiles were conducting attacks in Gaza that then resulted in civilian casualties.
Through its subsidiary G-NIUS Unmanned Ground Systems (UGS) Ltd., Elbit also produces Unmanned Ground Systems (UGS). The company's UGSs Avantguard and Guardium are used in combat support and patrolling missions on Israel's borders. Here is a video
of the Guardium-LS UGV's capabilities.
In Elbit's 2010 Annual Report
, the company declares that its subsidiary, Soltam
, produces white phosphorus ammunition for mortars
. According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which monitors Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the employment of White Phosphorus against humans is illegal and considered a war crime. If white phosphorus comes in contact with human bodies, it can cause serious incinerations that are extremely painful and often lethal. Only the use of white phosphorus as a fog shield or to mark targets is legal.
In the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Army admitted to having used white phosphorus bombs in the attacks on Gaza. Subsequently, Israel was accused of having committed war crimes. Their main accuser is Human Rights Watch; in its 2009 report titled "Rain of Fire: Israel's Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza"
, the organization claims that the Israeli Army has used such ammunition against humans in civilian areas. Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report, stated: "It [the Israeli military] fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren't in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died." However since Israel is not a signatory state of the CWC the legal situation is unclear.
Equipment for jets and tanks
Elbit supplies the Israeli Air Force with avionics systems such as mission computers and helmet mounted systems for aircrafts and helicopters. These electronic systems are used in the Israeli F-16 fighter jets that have frequently been used in the bombing of the Gaza Strip.
The company also supplies a range of systems for all models of Israel's main battle tank, the Merkava. This includes fire control and electric gun and turret drive systems, electronic and electric turret systems, day/night gunner, and battle management systems. Different models of the Merkava were used in a large number of large-scale military operations by the Israeli Military, such as the 2006 Lebanon War and the 2008 Operation Cast Lead. Until today, many Merkava Mark IV were stationed along Israeli borders in Gaza and the West Bank.
Involvement in the U.S.-Mexico Border
The Separation Wall is not the only wall Elbit has supplied border control mechanisms for. In 2006, Elbit's subsidiary, Kollsmann, was contracted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to supply border security technology to the U.S.-Mexico border. Within the program that cost about one billion U.S. dollars, Kollsmann acted as a subcontractor of Boeing along with the forms Lucent, L3 Communications, Perot Systems, and Unisys Global Public Sector. However in January 2011, the program was canceled without being finished due to cost overruns, technical problems, and schedule delays. See this Department of Homeland Security report