But Israel’s “war on terror” will not be only about revenge, just as the US’s was not.
The Israeli arms industry has been thriving in recent years, with a record $12.5 billion in sales in 2022, double the figure from one decade ago. In the last year, 24 percent of its arms went to Arab states, including Bahrain, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. According to the Israeli Defence Ministry’s own figures, the number of countries buying Israeli drones has jumped 40 percent in the last three years, munitions have grown by 45 percent, and spyware and related cyber-equipment soared from 67 to 83 countries in 2022.
As I wrote in my book, The Palestine Laboratory, Israel has used both the endless occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, along with the siege on Gaza, to “battle-test” ever-evolving new forms of repression and surveillance. These offensive tools are then marketed and sold to the majority of nations on the planet.
In this context, the current war on Gaza will certainly be good for business. The Israeli army’s social media team is already proudly promoting the first time the Elbit-made Iron Sling, a mortar designed to hit Hamas rocket launching sites, was used in battle. This is a war for a local and global public audience as well as potential foreign buyers looking to build up their arsenal.
Israel is also likely hoping to expand the sale of its high-tech military and intelligence tools. Even Israeli spyware company, NSO Group, mired in scandals for years, is looking to get in on the action, pitching themselves to Washington as an essential part of this new “war on terror”.
In its assault on Gaza, the Israeli army has boasted about using artificial intelligence (AI) in combat to “produce reliable targets quickly and accurately”. For years, Israel has claimed that it is a pioneer in AI-enabled warfare, but there is no evidence that it has reduced civilian casualties while using it. The current death toll of more than 12,000 people in Gaza — the vast majority of them civilians — certainly does not lend credence to this claim.
In the occupied West Bank, AI is used to deepen the complete monitoring and control of Palestinians. It is not a liberating technology in Palestine. It is the complete opposite.
Israel’s pursuit of an ethno-nationalist agenda endangers both Palestinians and critical Jews within Israel and across the world. Israel remains an inspiration for huge swaths of the global right and far right in building a loose global coalition of nations opposed to immigration, multiculturalism, and abiding by human rights norms.
With Israel claiming that it is fighting a war between so-called Western values and “barbarism”, the decimation of Palestinians’ lives and livelihoods in Gaza is a sign of an increasingly erratic and wild Israel. And yet, as it embarks on a dark and bloody “war on terror”, the Western world is supporting it every step of the way.
The full article penned by Antony Loewenstein first appeared on