Chris Hedges: Israel Shutting Down Gaza Human Lab

Israeli weapons and surveillance technologies are cementing a supranational corporate totalitarianism, enslaving populations in ways past totalitarian regimes could only imagine.

No Pain No Gain – by Mr. Fish.

By Chris Hedges
in Cairo
Scheer Post

The Palestinians are human laboratory rats to the Israeli military, intelligence services and arms and technology industries.

Israel’s drones, surveillance technology — including spyware, facial recognition software and biometric gathering infrastructure — along with smart fences, experimental bombs and AI-controlled machine guns, are tried out on the captive population in Gaza, often with lethal results.

These weapons and technologies are then certified as “battle tested” and sold around the world. 

Israel is the 10th biggest arms dealer on the planet and has sold its technology and weapons to an estimated 130 nations, including military dictatorships in Asia and Latin America. Israeli weapons sales totalled $12.5 billion last year. 

Its close relationship with these military, internal security, surveillance, intelligence-gathering and law enforcement agencies, explains the fulsome support Israel’s allies give to its genocidal campaign in Gaza. 

When Colombian President Gustavo Petro refused to condemn the Oct. 7 attack by Palestinian resistance groups as a “terrorist attack” and said “terrorism is killing innocent children in Palestine,” Israel immediately halted all sales of defense and security equipment to Colombia. 

This global cabal, dedicated to permanent war and keeping its populations monitored and controlled, has hundreds of billions of dollars a year in sales. These technologies are cementing into place a supranational corporate totalitarianism, a world where populations are enslaved in ways that past totalitarian regimes could only imagine. 

The genocidal assault on Gaza is another chapter in the century-long ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by the Israeli settler colonial project. It is accompanied, as is true for all settler colonial projects, by the theft of natural resources, land, water and the natural gas in the Gaza Marine fields, 20 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza, which could contain up to 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. 

Prelude to Frightening New World Order

In a world of diminishing resources, especially water in the Middle East, and the dislocations caused by the climate crisis, Gaza is the prelude to a frightening new world order.

As democracies wither and die, as economic inequality expands, as poverty and desperation mounts, the global ruling class will increasingly do to us — once we become restive and attempt to rebel — what they are doing to the Palestinians. 

It is not a far cry from Gaza to the camps and detention centers set up for migrants fleeing to Europe from Africa and the Middle East. It is not a far cry from the carpet bombing in Gaza to the endless wars in the Middle East and the global south.

It is not a far cry from the anti-terrorism laws used to criminalize dissent in Israel to the anti-terrorism laws introduced in Europe and the U.S.

Israeli forces bombing Gaza Strip, Oct. 10. (Al Araby, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

On Oct. 7, Palestinians in Gaza escaped from their laboratory cage. They went on a killing spree against their sadistic masters.

Almost 12,000 Palestinians have been killed and some 30,000 wounded, including 4,700 children, since Oct. 7 in the hurricane of shells, bullets, bombs and missiles that are turning Gaza into a wasteland. 

Nearly 3,000 Palestinians are missing or buried under the rubble. Soon Palestinians will be convulsed by infectious diseases and starvation. Those who survive, if Israel succeeds in its ethnic cleansing, will become refugees, yet again, over the border in Egypt.

There remain plenty of Palestinian test subjects in the West Bank. Gaza will be closed for business.

Israel, which is not a signatory of the Arms Trade Treaty, has long supplied some of the most heinous regimes on the planet with weaponry, including the apartheid government of South Africa and Myanmar

India is Israel’s largest purchaser of military drones. Israel provided UAVs, missiles and mortars to Azerbaijan for its invasion and occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, which displaced 100,000 people, more than 80 percent of the enclave’s ethnic Armenians. 

Elbit Systems’ multi-payload, long-range, medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV displayed at the Singapore Air Show 2012. (Choo Yut Shing, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Israel sold napalm and weapons to the Salvadoran military, as well as the murderous regime of General José Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala when I covered the wars in the 1980s in Central America. 

Israeli-made Uzi submachine guns were the weapons of choice for Central American death squads. Israel also sold weapons to the Bosnian Serbs, despite international sanctions, when I covered the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, a conflict that took the lives of 100,000 people.

“Israel is a key player in the EU battle to both militarize its borders and deter new arrivals, a policy that hugely accelerated after the massive influx of migrants in 2015, principally due to the wars in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” writes Anthony Loewenstein in The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports the Technology of Occupation Around the World.

“The EU has partnered with leading Israeli defense companies to use its drones, and of course years of experience in Palestine is a key selling point.” 

Israeli forces in Gaza, July 31, 2014. (IDF, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

“The similarities between the U.S.–Mexico border and Israel’s wall through the occupied territories are growing by the year,” he writes.

“One informs and inspires the other, with tech companies always looking for new ways to target and capture perceived enemies. The use of high-tech surveillance tools to monitor the border was backed by both Republicans and Democrats. One company during the Trump years, the billionaire Peter Theil–backed Brinc, tested the possibility of deploying armed drones that would taser migrants with a stun gun along the U.S.–Mexico border.”

Heron TP “Eitan” drones, manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries — Israel’s largest aerospace and defense company and the country’s largest arms exporter — are used by Frontex, the European Union’s external border and coastal agency, to monitor and deter migrant and refugee boats in the Mediterranean. 

The drones, which fly up to 40 hours continuously, can be modified to carry four Spike rockets with fragmentation sleeves of thousands of 3mm tungsten cubes that puncture metal and “cause tissue to be torn from flesh,” in essence shredding the victim. They are routinely used on Palestinians.

“It’s almost impossible to cross the Mediterranean [as a migrant],” Felix Weiss, of the German NGO Sea-Watch, told Loewenstein. “Frontex has become a militarized actor, its equipment coming from war zones,” he added. 

Anti-Frontex demonstration on June 6, 2008, outside the European Border and Coast Guard Agency’s headquarters in Warsaw, Poland. (Noborder Network, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest private weapons firm, supplies U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with hi-tech surveillance towers which it uses along the border with Mexico. It also supplied the CBP with its Hermes drone in 2004 in order to test the feasibility of using UAVs on the border. 

Pegasus, a phone-hacking tool produced by the Israeli NSO Group, a cyber intelligence agency, was used by Mexican drug cartels to target the journalist Griselda Triana, after her husband Javier Valdez Cárdenas, also an investigative reporter, was assassinated in 2017. 

The Mexican government is directly implicated in targeting journalists and civil society members with Pegasus spyware, according to research and analysis by Canada’s Citizen Lab. After the reporter Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, it was discovered that an NSO client targeted the phone of his fiancé, Hanan Elatr.

Pegasus transforms a cellular phone into a mobile surveillance device, with microphones and cameras activated without the user’s knowledge. 

Skunk Water 

Skunk water, a putrid smelling liquid, was tested and perfected on Palestinians, often with Israeli film crews recording the attacks to show potential clients the effectiveness of the chemical. 

“Israeli forces routinely douse entire Palestinian neighborhoods in skunk water, deliberately spraying it into private homes, businesses, schools and funerals” in what the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem calls “a collective punitive measure against Palestinian villages that engage in protest against Israel’s colonial violence,” The Electronic Intifada reported in 2015.

That same year, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department purchased 14 canisters of skunk to use against protesters following demonstrations that erupted after the police killing of unarmed African American teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri. 

Black Lives Matter demonstration in Berlin, June 24, 2017. (Montecruz Foto, Creative Commons: Attribution Share Alike)

Israel created a sophisticated facial recognition system, Red Wolf, to document every Palestinian in the occupied territories. The technology “is used extensively” to “consolidate existing practices of discriminatory policing, segregation, and curbing freedom of movement, violating Palestinians’ basic rights,” Amnesty International explains in its recent report titled “Automated Apartheid.”

The French investigative outlet Disclose revealed that French police have been unlawfully using facial recognition software provided by the Israeli tech firm BriefCam for eight years. BriefCam’s technology allows users to “detect, track, extract, classify [and] catalog” people “appearing in video surveillance footage in real-time.”

AI-machine guns, manufactured by the Israeli company SMARTSHOOTER, can fire stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets as well as tear gas. They were perfected in trials on the Palestinians in the West Bank.

SMARTSHOOTER was recently awarded a contract to supply the British Army with its SMASH “automatic targeting and firing system” which can be attached to small arms such as automatic rifles. 

Israel, according to Jeff Halper in his book War Against the People, has done cutting edge work on cyborg soldiers. It developed a radar system that sees through walls, he writes.

As The Electronic Intifada explains, Israel’s military-industrial complex has built “a tank named Cruelty, a 20-gram drone in the shape of a butterfly, a stealth ‘wonder boat’ called the Death Shark, a series of weapons named after insects or natural phenomena (bionic hornets, smart dust, dragonfly drones and smart dew robots), cybernetic insects, a 600-building ‘urban warfare’ training center nicknamed Chicago and a one-megaton bomb containing electromagnetic pulse capability.”

Israeli forces drilling in the Urban Warfare Training Center, which provides simulating fighting in populated cities,  in 2012. (IDF, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Harper notes that during the occupation of Iraq, the U.S. military replicated the tactics used by Israel against the Palestinians. It constructed a security barrier around the Baghdad Green Zone, imposed closures on towns and villages, carried out targeted assassinations, copied Israeli torture techniques and used checkpoints and roadblocks to isolate towns and villages. 

Israel trains and equips U.S. police forces, teaching aggressive tactics, backed up by heavy military hardware and vehicles, which were used in Ferguson and Atlanta during the police confrontations with activists who were protesting Cop City.

Harper calls this the “Palestinianization” of global conflicts. 

“With so many Israeli companies involved in maintaining the infrastructure around the occupation, these firms found innovative ways to sell their services to the state, test the latest technology on Palestinians, and then promote them around the world,” Loewenstein explains.

And while “the defense industries are increasingly in private hands,” following decades of neoliberal privatization, “they continue to act as an extension of Israel’s foreign policy agenda, supporting its goals and pro-occupation ideology.”

The global ruling class will counter the destabilizing forces of inequality, curtailment of civil liberties, collapsing infrastructure, failing health systems and increasing shortages caused by an accelerating climate crisis, by branding all who resist as “human animals.”

This new world order began in Gaza. It ends at home.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor and NPR.  He is the host of show “The Chris Hedges Report.”

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8 comments for “Chris Hedges: Israel Shutting Down Gaza Human Lab

  1. Alexander A Goslat
    November 20, 2023 at 21:12

    Driven by an egocentric ideology, people are propagating hatred towards others, accelerating animosities that end in violent conflicts. In such an environment the most lethal psychological infusion is superiority. Feeling superior to others inadvertently diminishes moral and ethical values. Closing the socio-intellectual gap by propagating mutual understanding tolerance and respect for people from different backgrounds, of different cultures, is an essential effort. We have to accept the fact that diversity is written into the scripts of life and live with it.

  2. Lois Gagnon
    November 20, 2023 at 19:52

    We are definitely reaching a critical point of the masses vs. the ruling corporate/political class. What seems to finally be dawning on the popular masses is that we are all Gazans now. What we have going for us is there are way more of us than there are of them. They definitely have the fire power to take a lot of us out, but there’s only one way to take us all out and that would entail forcing them into their expensive coffins AKA luxury bunkers.

    These psychopaths inventing all this high tech weaponry may think they have the upper hand, but we do in fact have the power to shut them down. We just have to realize it and use it. This is the last gasp of the Euro/US settler colonialist project. It will be violent, but let us not give up. We have a world to win.

  3. Joy Al-Sofi
    November 20, 2023 at 17:16

    One thing that could stop the bombing immediately, would be for Pope Francis to go to Gaza, to the Rafah Crossing and enter into Gaza with the Gazans. I believe this would change the dynamics as soon as such a visit was announced. I made a petition on
    If anyone thinks this might work, and would like to support it:


    This is in addition to any and everything else we can do, but given the craven behavior of the western governments, it’s’ st least something different. It might not work, there are plenty of obstacles, but maybe it’s worth trying. Please sign and share if you can

    • November 20, 2023 at 19:28

      Do you really think the Israelis would hesitate to bomb the Pope?

    • Riva Enteen
      November 20, 2023 at 20:15

      It’s a good idea. International law appears impotent to stop the genocide, so maybe the Church can.

  4. Patricia Henry
    November 20, 2023 at 16:15

    Everything in the last two years screams that the Emperor Has No Clothes. Not only were the Emperor’s Magnificent New Clothes a Big Lie, but so are the Emperor’s Invincible New Weapons also a Big Lie.

    Malcolm X made a famous observation that in Korea and Vietnam, the mighty American war machine that had won the World War, was defeated by a bunch of guys in sandals carrying Kalashnikovs. We’ve seen in Ukraine that all of these incredibly expensive, invincible weapons are actually quite vincible. We are told that we are under intense surveillance, and yet the occupants of the open-air, Gaza prison manage to surprise the watchers.

    When you realize that Joe Biden is just a naked old guy in the middle of the street, and that is guards are all armed with overpriced junk sold by confidence artists, you start to wonder just why you are on the ground prostrate with fear?

    • AA from MD
      November 21, 2023 at 12:17

      I agree wioth your sentiment Patricia but let’s call Gaza what it is, “A concentration camp” where palestinians are herded to be killed at any point Israel chooses to do so with “western” complicity. Prison implies, the inmates are guilty or have vistitation rights or three meals a day with electricity and water or will be free at some point. None of that exists for Palestinians in Gaza. It is a concentration camp and has been so, for a long time. Israeli MPs openly call for Genocide and “mowing the lawn” but never held to account by ICC or “western” media or leaders.

  5. mr bog
    November 20, 2023 at 16:04

    One might think when an ethnic group is oppressed that they’d be sensitized against oppressing others in the same way.
    But human nature seems to be the opposite. The oppressed view their oppression as a tool to use for any cynical goals they might have, no matter who it harms in return. Whenever a group becomes uncriticizable they inevitably take advantage of it, be it Jews stealing land in Israel or Blacks looting stores in the U.S. As a result we have Jews praying for Hamas atrocities so they respond with genocide. Or Blacks praying for the next case of police brutality so they can go steal another pair of sneakers and an electric guitar. Victimhood is so valuable we even have people like Jussie Smollett paying people to beat him up so he can ride the glory and superiority that comes it.
    I wish I knew the solution to this, because if we come down hard on such overcompensation then we’ll have over-decompensation. Human nature seems to be a catch-22.

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