Boycott Divestment and Sanctions activists in Norway staged a symbolic intifada against Norwegian aerospace and defense company Nammo Raufoss AS against their ongoing arms trade with Israel.
According to Alternative Information Center the protest was broadcast live on national Norwegian news channel Tv2 Nyhetskanalen.
The international arms trade is a vast trillion dollar industry--estimates suggest 2.7% of world GDP is comprised of U.S. military expenditure. And the United States is of course the primary financier and dealer of weapons to Israel, and has been since the 1960s.
But Norway, home of the 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accords as well as the Nobel Peace Prize, gives anestimated yearly $100 million in aid to Palestine. The country’s Middle East peace-oriented agenda far exceeds attempts by the United States to foster a realistic peace agreement between the governments of Israel and Palestine.
That said, weapons and ammunitions produced by Nammo AS are prevalent in Israel’s military apparatus. International law prohibits arms sales to countries perpetrating human rights abuses, and the use of Norwegian made weaponry against Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza is a clear violation.
The government of Israel continues to breach the rights of Palestinians in a number of ways. The government restricts freedom of movement for the over 300,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem by threatening to or revoking their Jerusalem resident cards. These I.D.s allow Palestinians in East Jerusalem access to Israel, a right that West Bank residents are denied. Some 14,481 Palestinians have had their residency revoked. Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967 after the Six-Day War with Jordan, in a move still not recognized by the international community.
Israel’s land administration authority and municipalities carry out punitive or arbitrary demolitions of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and greater Israel, usually under the pretext of failure to obtain a building permit. The problem is that Israel’s municipality judiciaries almost universally reject the permit applications of Palestinians. Some 28,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israeli authorities, according to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights NGO that monitors abuses against Palestinians.
Article 33 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions outlaws collective punishment unambiguously, saying “No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they can not be regarded as jointly and severally responsible.” Yet the Israeli army frequently closes off neighborhoods in Palestinian communities, subjecting residents to security searches at impromptu checkpoints. Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank was declared in the beginning of November a “closed military zone” by the IDF, meaning residents must prove their homes are inside the city or they will be denied entry.
It has been the Israeli government’s unofficial policy to coerce Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Israel into at least the West Bank, but presumably further like Jordan and other neighboring Arab countries. And these are just a minority of Israel’s crimes under international law.
Although Israel is under a Norwegian arms trade prohibition, Nammo AS skirts legal implications by selling weapons first to its U.S. subsidiary Nammo Talley, which then sells those weapons directly to Israel.
The Norwegian government has repeatedly been accused of naiveté in their weapons export by Amnesty International and the Norwegian Church Aid. Norway’s arms sales are regulated depending on destination, meaning for example, that the government can sell weapons to NATO without a declaration of use, or a statement of the final destination of arms. Norway has increased military export to the U.S. by twenty-fold since 2001, and does not require a declaration of use.
In the lead up to the intifada demonstration, BDS Norway officially declared, “we demand an end to all Norwegian arms trade with Israel.”
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel has been gaining traction in recent years, amid an ongoing and brutal occupation of Palestine that is nearing its 68th year. Around the world, endorsements of BDS have come from student groups, university departments, unions and celebrities.