Yesterday’s social justice protests in Tel Aviv witnessed a new low for the Big Brother-national security state. Tel Aviv police employed an IDF battlefield command vehicle called suitably, Stalker (or Raccoon) and manufactured by Rafael, the Israeli weapons manufacturer. It is similar to the air-based AWACs, which spies on “the enemy” and coordinates communications for forces in the field.
This enormous truck was seen wherever demonstrators marched in Tel Aviv as it monitored the crowd. Besides listening in on communications of the protesters it can photograph individuals during the day and at night. It has a huge arm which can be raised 30 feet above the roof in order to gain the height necessary to surveill a target area. The vehicle is a common sight at protests on the West Bank where it’s used to amass intelligence on Palestinian activists. In that sense, the chickens of Occupation are coming home to roost.
The police would not confirm what the vehicle was or where they got it or who was operating it. The IDF claimed to have no idea what the journalists were talking about who inquired about it.
What this means though is that the Israeli State is using increasingly militaristic tactics to confront the ‘threat’ posed by the social justice movement. Just as the Palestinians targeted by Stalker are Israel’s “enemy,” now the social justice movement is seen as the State’s (or at least the city’s) enemy. Last week, police beat up women and arrested 90 demonstrators, then demanded that the court allow it to hold them throughout the course of their legal proceedings, which could last more than a year. Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai seems to have turned his city into a mini police-state.
But there is only law and order for a select few. If you’re an African refugee living in the city’s slums you can expect rioters to beat you mercilessly while the police do relatively little to stop them. Then you can expect hounding from the Border Police and eventually a concentration–er, detention camp and deportation back to the same chaos you faced in Sudan or Eritrea or Somalia.
Gal Mor, at the Israeli blog, Holes in the Net wrote:
Why introduce a military vehicle into the heart of a civilian population exercising its democratic right to protest? Did it collect information about the protesters? If so, what kind? If not, was it meant to intimidate?
MK Zehava Gal-On had the best line of the night by far:
[She] cracked on Sunday that “those who are complaining about how yesterday the police brought a military vehicle used to listen in on the protest don’t understand the size of this accomplishment: It was the first time the state has listened to the demands of the protest movement.”
Bob Mann says
Seems strange that so many people risk their lives to get to Israel only to be beaten mercilessly by rioters, sent to a concentration/detention camp and deported. Has the word not reached Sudan and Eritrea that this is the fate that awaits those who make the treacherous journey out of their home country, across Egypt, and then over to Israel? It hardly seems worth the danger. Perhaps with the recent changes in the government of Egypt, that country will prove to be a more welcoming place of refuge for those fleeing Sudan and Eritrea, and those refugees won’t need to risk their lives to surreptitiously enter Israel only to face beating, arrest, and deportation.
Richard Silverstein says
You tell a man facing starvation or murder in his home country not to come to a nation that offers enormous wealth and promise compared to what he finds nearby? How strongly will your warning sound to him?
The enemy within and the enemy without — step by step control by a handful of fat cats and their sponsors. This is how a social justice movement could be radicalized and could find allies among the disaffected in the WB and Gaza, however far-fetched that may seem at the moment. The worse it gets, the better.
Carl Weetabix says
Clearly it’s based on an American Humvee design, so the long arm of American imperialism continues to sadly find its mark…