Sunday Mail (UK)
Missiles firm in Scottish road bid
Call for giant to be banned over Gaza bombing links
Israel’s national weapons manufacturer is in the running for a £21million contract to monitor Scotland’s roads.
Elta Systems is bidding to take over the national control centre in Edinburgh where CCTV of major trunk routes is managed.
The firm is part of state-owned weapons giant Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) which makes attack drones and laser-guided missiles including the “Slegehammer”, which it boasts has a “kill radius” of 65ft.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was outspoken in her criticism of Israel’s bombing of Gaza earlier this month.
Eleven days of the worst fighting in years claimed more than 250 Palestinian lives including 66 children. A total of 12 were killed in Israel, including two children.
A tower block housing the offices of journalists at Al Jazeera and the Associated Press news agency was also obliterated by Israel in a missile strike.
Elta is tendering for the Transport Scotland contract despite its core business being the “development of advanced defence and intel l igence electronics, including sensors, radars, electronic warfare and communication systems”.
Labour MSP Pauline McNeill said: “If it is established that this company has been regularly testing systems in Gaza they should not be anywhere near this contract. I ask the Scottish Government to look in to this as soon as possible.
“It is my understanding that the Government policy is not to allow Scottish companies to engage goods and services linked to the occupation of Palestinian Territories and I will be calling on them to act.
“There could also potentially be security issues given the nature of this company appearing to be part of the Israeli Government’ s military organisation and getting access to Scotland’s CCTV network.
“I would have thought that the Scottish Government would want to test the involvement of any bidder against the security issues of getting this access to our CCTV traffic network .” Scottish Greens external affairs spokesperson Ross Greer said: “Any company complicit in Israel ’s brutal occupation of Palestine should be banned from bidding for public contracts here in Scotland.
“Sixty-six Palestinian children were killed this month as a result of this illegal military occupation.
Scotland shouldn’t have blood on its hands by funding Israel’s arms dealers.
“The international boycott campaign played a major role in bringing down South African apartheid. With both Human Rights Watch and Israel’s largest domestic human rights organisation both labelling Israel an apartheid state, that same
boycott strategy should be applied here until the occupation ends.”
Former justice secretary Humza Yousaf spoke out earlier this month after multiple air strikes in Gaza, including one on a 13-storey residential building.
He tweeted: “Wife has been in floods of tears all evening. Her brother lives in Gaza with his wife and three young children. He tells us it’s raining rockets. As a parent he feels helpless, they cannot leave as they are under blockade. All we can do is pray and hope they are alive in the morning.”
Sturgeon also condemned Israeli forces for storming a mosque in east Jerusalem.
She said: “Attacking a place of worship at any time is reprehensible but attacking a mosque during Ramadan is utterly indefensible. It is
also a violation of international law. Israel should heed calls to halt the violence immediately.”
On May 14 she added: “Yet again today, we are witnessing appalling violence and heartbreaking loss of Palestinian lives in Gaza. It is not acceptable.
“International law must be upheld and human rights must be respected…and a just and peaceful way forward based on a two state solution must be found.”
IAI is owned by the Israeli government and run by CEO Boaz Levy, who previously served in the Israeli Air Force as an expert on guided weapon systems.
Elta is one of four branches of the firm, which boasts of selling products “uniquely capable of searching, identifying and neutralising targets, precisely and effectively”.
Transport Scotland put its £21million contract out to tender in March as part of a wider £ 70million outsourcing round.
The winning firm will operate the organisation’s National Control Centre in South Queensferry, West
Lothian. Tender documents state: “This involves the use of multiple data streams and information sources to pro-actively monitor and support the safe, efficient and resilient operation of the trunk road network, by providing real-time traffic and travel information to the public and stakeholders through a wide variety of communication channels.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We are currently running a procurement for a new Traffic Scotland Operator service in accordance with procurement regulations. This is a live procurement valued at £21 million and the successful tenderer will be announced once the procurement process is complete.”
A spokesperson for Elta said: “As a global technology company it is our policy not to discuss ongoing tenders.”
The UN Human Rights Council has announced it will launch an investigation into“systematic discrimination and repression” in Israel and Palestine during the recent conflict in Gaza.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN rights chief, said Israel’s attacks on Gaza
could constitute war crimes if they were found to be disproportionate, while also accusing Hamas of firing indiscriminate rockets on Israel.
She said: “There is no doubt that Israel has the right to defend its citizens and residents. However, Palestinians have rights too – the same rights. The death of and injury of children in this escalation is a source of shame for all.”
Bachelet said the Gaza violence was directly linked to protests in Jerusalem that began weeks beforehand, which were met with “a heavy response from Israeli security forces”.
She said two factors led to the escalation – the imminent eviction of Palestinians“under forced displacement” in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and Israel’s use of “excessive force” against Palestinian protesters, including at the al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.
A ceasefire was finally announced on May 21.
Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticised the UN council’s “blatant anti-Israel obsession”.
He added: “Once again, an immoral automatic majority at the council whitewashes a genocidal terrorist organisation that deliberately targets Israeli civilians while turning Gaza’s civilians into human shields.”
Scotland shouldn’t have blood on its hands by funding Israeli arms dealers