Borders of Repression -- Israel's Elbit on Tohono O'odham Nation and in Palestine
By Brenda Norrell
The 'Divest in Elbit' panel presentation reveals how the Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems has built 10 surveillance towers on the Tohono O'odham Nation and tracks O'odham 24 hours a day.
Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham living on the border on her homeland, describes the surveillance, and devastation to O'odham burial places, from the construction by Elbit on the Tohono O'odham Nation.
The United States government disregarded all federal laws which protect Native sacred sites, animals and the environment in order for the spy towers -- integrated fixed towers -- to be constructed, she said.
The Tohono O'odham Nation government approved Elbit's spy towers on their sovereign land, over the objection of the Gu-Vo District and traditional O'odham.
Rivas, founder of O'odham Voice Against the Wall, describes the militarization and abuses by the U.S. Border Patrol. Border Patrol agents abuse O'odham on this side of the border, and prevent O'odham in Mexico from traveling on their homeland for food and necessities on this side of the border.
There is daily violence and death directed at her own people, and the migrants. There is also the deportation of O'odham to Mexico.
"We are under 24 hour surveillance."
The restriction of movement effects the lives of O'odham and their children.
"This psychological game has always been played," Rivas said.
Investigative reporter Will Parrish describes how Elbit's drone was marketed to law enforcement who monitored Standing Rock Water Protectors in 2016.
The U.S. Border Patrol provided a drone to law enforcement for surveillance of Standing Rock Water Protectors, and recently loaned out its drones to police monitoring George Floyd actions, Parrish said during the panel.
Parrish exposed the covert surveillance of Dakota Access Pipeline and its hired security TigerSwan in his reporting for The Intercept. He also exposed the paid FBI informant Heath Harmon who set up Red Fawn for imprisonment.
During the border panel today, Parrish reveals how Elbit marketed its surveillance and weapons to the U.S. Border Patrol at expos in Marana, Arizona and San Antonio, Texas.
Parrish said Elbit's video surveillance of Tohono O'odham individuals on their homeland on the Arizona border is now viewed, tracked and stored by the local U.S. Border Patrol.
Photo: US Border Patrol surveillance of traditional Tohono O'odham home on the Tohono O'odham Nation. Photo copyright Ofelia Rivas.
Parrish visited Ofelia's home and saw the U.S. Border Patrol surveillance, including a mobile surveillance truck with a camera parked outside her home.
Parrish witnessed the extensive surveillance on the Tohono O'odham Nation: The multiple checkpoints and build-up of U.S. Border Patrol vehicles around traditional O'odham homes.
The border, he said, is a laboratory for systems to oppress and criminalize populations.
During the panel, Dov Baum, an Israeli Jew and activist in Palestine, described how the U.S. funds Israel and Elbit's militarization and death patrols in Palestine.
The atrocities by Elbit in Palestine include the use of cluster bombs, which kill children who play with the scattered bombs, and white phosphorus, which ignites in the air and burns inside the peoples' lungs.
Describing her time in Palestine and sleeping in a tent during the construction of the wall, Baum said Elbit killed Palestinians with impunity and continues to kill with impunity.
"This is part of the land grab," Baum said, describing how Palestinian farmers were pushed off their lands.
"It is a border of repression."
"It is a big prison," she said. "Borders of oppression, borders of theft."
Among the weapons are unmanned vehicle -- armed trucks without drivers -- targeting civilians with death in Palestine. They fire tear gas and shoot to kill with live ammunition.
"They are used as a threat, to scare them," she said of the killings of Palestinians without cause.
"Resistance on the ground is the key," she said, pointing out that living one's full life in this area of oppression, is resistance.
The panel today was hosted by Water Protector Legal Collective created at Standing Rock. Cofounder Michelle Cook, Dine' (Navajo) moderated today's powerful panel.
It was hosted by Natali Segovia and the National Lawyer's Guild, Indigenous Peoples Rights Committee.
Photo: Unmanned drones are among the weapons of surveillance and death that Elbit markets around the world.
The US Border Patrol in Grand Forks, North Dakota, provided law enforcement with the use of its drone for surveillance on George Floyd protests in Minneapolis. Earlier, the U.S. Border Patrol drone was used by law enforcement to spy on Standing Rock Water Protectors.
The DIVEST BORDER PANEL SERIES: Indigenous peoples and allies discuss the impacts of Integrated Fixed Towers (IFTs) and their impact on Indigenous peoples rights in the United States and globally.
Research by O’odham VOICE Against the Wall
Hosted by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Committee and the NLG International Committee
Support from Water Protector Legal Collective, and the Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders and Corporate Accountability Program
Michelle Cook (Dineh) Founder, Divest Invest Protect; Director, Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders and Corporate Accountability Program
Ophelia Rivas (Tohono O’odham) is founder of O’odham VOICE Against the WALL and has spent her life speaking out against the U.S. Border Patrol and militarization of O’odham lands.
Will Parrish is an investigative journalist based in Northern California. His web site is Will Parrish Reports
Hosted by Natali Segovia, National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Indigenous Peoples Rights Committee, The Indigenous Peoples Rights Committee is organized to take up the struggles of indigenous peoples in the US and throughout the world.
The Tohono O'odham Nation and Palestine are laboratories for surveillance, oppression and death, a border panel said Friday.