Sunday Mail (UK)

Missiles firm in Scottish road bid

Call for giant to be banned over Gaza bombing links

- John Ferguson ■ Political Editor

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

 ??  ?? HORROR Israeli bomb
HORROR Israeli bomb
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? BUILT FOR CONFLICT Attack drones, laser-guided missiles – including the giant Sledgehamm­er – are manufactur­ed by IAI
BUILT FOR CONFLICT Attack drones, laser-guided missiles – including the giant Sledgehamm­er – are manufactur­ed by IAI
 ??  ?? LEADER Benjamin Netan
LEADER Benjamin Netan
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ?? Pic ?? DESTROYED A tower block in Gaza housing Associated Press and Al Jazeera journalist­s was obliterate­d
Reuters
Pic DESTROYED A tower block in Gaza housing Associated Press and Al Jazeera journalist­s was obliterate­d Reuters
 ??  ?? INTERCEPTI­ON Israel’s missile system developed by state-owned IAI destroys rockets fired from Gaza
INTERCEPTI­ON Israel’s missile system developed by state-owned IAI destroys rockets fired from Gaza
 ??  ?? TRAFFIC SCOTLAND
The control centre in Edinburgh manages major routes
TRAFFIC SCOTLAND The control centre in Edinburgh manages major routes
 ??  ?? AGAINST
Greer
AGAINST Greer
 ??  ?? ACTION
McNeil
ACTION McNeil

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