“Mowing the lawn”: The weaponisation of water and technology in Palestine

In the most recent issue of Logic(s) Magazine, Edward Ongweso Jr. writes about Israel’s strategy towards Gaza called “mowing the lawn”: bursts of horrifying violence – a collective punishment of Palestinian people – followed by “calmer” periods where survivors are left to bury the dead, and rebuild their infrastructure while Israel continues to deepen its occupation.

The scale and breadth of the death, destruction, and dispossession of the ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people since 7 October 2023 has been immeasurably devastating, and alongside the “slow violence” persists. Water and technology, as explained by Ongweso Jr., are two parts to Israel’s strategy.

First, Palestinians barely have access to clean water, even though water is essential for life. Since October 2023, Israel has bombed, destroyed and contaminated many sources of water infrastructure, yet these forms of destruction and poisoning of water supply to contaminate and poison water in Palestine are not new.

Even before the complete Israeli siege of electricity, food, gas, and water on Gaza more than three months ago, and along with the blocking of aid, Israel has already been controlling all the issues related to water in the West Bank and Gaza. Amnesty, since 2017, has reported that almost 95% of water in Gaza is “unfit for human consumption”. UNICEF has stated that Gaza’s water facilities are currently pumping five percent of their pre-war daily output. Only three litres of water a day are currently available per person in Gaza for basic health requirements – the recommended minimum daily amount is 50 litres.

Second, on technology, Ongweso Jr., alongside several others, highlight that technology is central to how Israel maintains its system of apartheid and advances its policies. Weapons are one example, many which are manufactured by companies in the U.S. and Germany, as well as supplied by the U.S. government. Israel has received more than $124 billion USD in military assistance, the highest amount from the U.S. compared to any other nation since World War II (read, more recently, here).

In the last few years, however, Israel’s weapon exports have experienced a significant boom. The article draws from Antony Loewenstein’s recent book, “The Palestine Laboratory” which attributes this growth of Israel’s military-industrial complex to the occupation of Palestine. Palestine is Israel’s workshop where repressive and surveillance technologies are “battle-tested” on an occupied population and territory.

The impact and effects of these developments is global. The article zooms in on Elbit Systems, one of the largest military contractors in Israel. Elbit provides 85% of Israeli drone and land-based equipment, but 80% of its market is outside of Israel, making it both integral to the domestic market of training and testing technologies on Palestine – such as constructing a “smart” fence between the West Bank and Jerusalem as part of the illegal separation barrier – as well as to the importing of repressive technologies globally. In Gaza, Elbit provides electronic sensors, ground-based robots, and autonomous armoured vehicles (which are remotely controlled and packed with cameras, sensors, and weapons).

Ongweso Jr. centres water and technology to stress that current calls for access to water must reckon with that fact that Israel controls Palestine’s water, of which it has continuously weaponised to slowly poison and kill as many Palestinians as possible. Furthermore, technology and the defense industry directly profits from the occupation of Palestine, that cannot be separated from the global arms trade, that will continue to intensify with the increasing securitisation of borders, policing and quelling of social movements.

The genocidal violence will continue even when the day of a ceasefire comes; we must continue to call for an end to occupation, apartheid and genocide.

See: Mowing the Lawn: The Genocide Industry at Logic(s)

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