To mark the United Nation‘s ‘World Day of Social Justice‘, Palestine Action protested the UN‘s hypocrisy over Westminster Bridge, set off smoke flares, and gave a speech calling for an end to the UN‘s purchase of Israeli military drones. Following this, the activists walked to the United Nations Green, home to the United Nations black plaque monument. By doing this, Palestine Action highlighted the injustice Palestinians face due to the testing of these weapons.
Since at least 2016, the UN has deployed Hermes900 drones made by Israel‘s Elbit Systems as part of its ‘stabilization‘ mission in Mali. These drones were contracted through Elbit‘s partner Thales, a French company that jointly operates the Leicester–based UAV Tactical Systems drone brand with Elbit. The U–TacS employees were responsible for flying the Hermes drones in Mali on behalf of the UN.
Hermes drones have earned a notorious reputation in Palestine. The Hermes 900 model was first used by the UN during Israel‘s 2014 attack on Gaza, resulting in 840 deaths from drone strikes and the destruction of 89 households. Recently, it was revealed that these ‘surveillance‘ drones were in fact armed. The Hermes 450, which was employed in the 2014 murder of four children on a beach in Gaza and the killing of refugees and ambulance drivers in Israel‘s 2006 war on Lebanon, has been promoted by Elbit as ‘battle tested’ or ‘combat proven’ – against Palestinians. Despite this, the UN still uses these drones in its ‘peace keeping‘ operations.
The Hermes drones, notorious in Palestine, were first used in Israel‘s 2014 attack on Gaza, in which 840 Palestinians were killed by drone strikes and 89 whole families were annihilated. The Hermes 900 model, employed by the UN, is also used for extrajudicial killings, with Israel admitting recently that these ‘surveillance’ drones are, in fact, armed. Its sister drone, the Hermes 450, was utilized in the execution of four boys who were playing on a beach in Gaza in 2014, as well as for the murder of ambulance drivers and refugees during Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon. Elbit has openly touted these drones as “battle tested“ or “combat proven“ against Palestinians, raising questions about their suitability for UN ‘peacekeeping‘ missions.