Report: Ireland risks backlash over defense deal with Elbit

Israeli company to supply Irish army with surveillance pods, masts for new fleet of armored vehicles; newspaper says purchase may be controversial in light of recent UN report on Gaza war

Haifa-based Elbit Systems Ltd. has won a multi-million euro contract to supply the Irish Defense Forces with equipment to be mounted on a new fleet of RG-32M armored vehicles that are being built in South Africa, the Irish Independent reported Sunday.


The report said the Israeli company will design and supply surveillance pods and masts for the new vehicles, adding that the purchase may be controversial following the publication of a UN report alleging the IDF committed war crimes during its December-January offensive in Gaza.


Elbit is a leading Israeli company, which manufactures and integrates advanced, high-performance defense electronic and electro-optic systems for clients worldwide.


Norway's $400 billion-plus wealth fund recently excluded Elbit Systems due to it supplying surveillance equipment for the security fence in the West Bank.


"We do not wish to fund companies that so directly contribute to violations of international humanitarian law," Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen said in a statement.


The Irish daily said the surveillance equipment, to be mounted on some of the initial fleet of 27 new Irish armored vehicles which are being bought for €19.6M ($28.8M) from BAE Systems South Africa, will, according to tender documents from the Department of Defense, provide more accuracy for directing artillery fire.


The newspaper quoted Defense Minister Willie O'Dea as saying that his department maintained an "open door" policy with its acquisition of defensive equipment and used competitive tendering.


According to the Irish Independent, two years ago the Irish army bought a small fleet of Israeli Orbiter unmanned aerial vehicles - spy planes - for €780,000 (about $1.14M). They have been used in Chad by the Irish army for surveillance, as well as by the Army Ranger Wing, said the report.


A year earlier the Israeli company Rabintex Industries Ltd won a €2.5m ($3.6M) competition to supply 12,000 helmets to the Irish Defense Forces. Israel also supplied Ireland with an artillery fire control system valued at €1.5m ($2.2M), while two orders were placed with Israeli Military Industries in 2005 for 5.56mm ammunition for the Irish army's Steyr Aug rifles. 


פרסום ראשון: 09.21.09, 12:04
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