Since the founding of Israel in 1948, Motorola has been assisting the state in carrying out its repressive policies toward Palestinians. Motorola Israel, established in 1964, was the company’s first wholly owned subsidiary outside of the United States and profits handsomely from Israel's militarism and ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands. Its 2009 sales totaled $712 million, of which $304 million were exports. Motorola has been a target of several boycott campaigns including the the US Campaign to End the Occupation’s “Hang Up on Motorola” and Jewish Voice for Peace’s “TIAA-CREF: Divest from the Occupation”.
Motorola today enables Israeli apartheid as Motorola South Africa once enabled South African apartheid. Forty percent owned by its American parent, Motorola South Africa supplied mobile radio transmitters to the South African police, who used this technology to suppress demonstrations against the government. Motorola’s dealings with the apartheid regime came to an end in 1985, when Motorola sold its South African operations to South African electronic company Allied Technologies LTD (Altech) on the condition that the latter cease equipment sales to South African agencies. The agreement was a win for US anti-apartheid activists, who had pressured Motorola to break its ties with the South African regime and had helped to pass municipal laws, in New York, and elsewhere, that prohibited city governments from doing business with companies supplying equipment used to enforce apartheid in South Africa.
Motorola enables Israel’s apartheid policies and violations of international law through the development and sale of products specifically designed for and used by the Israeli military and settlers. There are three basic categories of Motorola products that have helped the state of Israel sustain its criminal policies and repressive practices:
Surveillance and “security” equipment and systems
Fuzes and Munitions
Communications equipment and systems
1. Motorola Israel: Surveillance and Security
Motorola designs and helps implement perimeter surveillance systems around illegal Israeli settlements and military camps in the occupied West Bank. Motorola developed the Electronic Fence Radar System (EFRS). In 2005, Har Bracha settlement, near Nablus, became the first settlement to receive the radar system and within a year, the IDF equipped at least 46 settlements in the occupied West Bank with the technology. The radar systems are like “virtual fences” that can extend up to 700 meters outside of the settlement, effectively seizing even more land for the settlements and prohibiting free movement of Palestinian living in nearby communities. The system is currently known to be in use in the Hebron region, including around the settlement of Karmei Tzur and in Hebron itself, where a handful ofsettlers have established themselves amid 150,000 Palestinians, attempting to expand their hold on Hebron’s historic old city by taking over homes, terrorizing and expelling Palestinian residents, and connecting their settlements to the neighboring settlement of Kiryat Arba.
The newest version of Motorola-developed surveillance systems used in the occupied West Bank is MotoEagle Surveillance, which is used in at least 16 West Bank locations; other Motorola military technology includes the Wide Area Surveillance System (WASS), which is deployed by the Israeli military in several “sensitive” areas around the country and The Stronghold, which also is used by the Israeli Ministry of Defense and which Motorola developed with Aeronautics Defense Systems (ADS).
In December 2009, Motorola sold its subsidiary Motorola Integrated Radio System (MIRS) to Altice. Along with three other Israeli companies, MIRS had built an extensive network of antennas and transmission stations for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. According to Israel’s Coalition of Women for Peace, MIRS had at least 70 cell phone towers in illegal settlements in the West Bank.
2. Motorola Israel: Fuzes and Munitions
In April 2009, Motorola Israel sold its Government Electronics Department (GED) unit that produced fuzes for the Israeli military to the Israeli company Aeronautics Defense Systems LTD, a close partner of Motorola Israel, with whom Motorola Israel co-develops other technologies. The sale came after several groups in the United States had been drawing attention to Motorola Israel’s support for Israeli apartheid.
Motorola spokesman Rusty Brashear said the sale of the unit was not triggered by the protests against Motorola. “We’re selling it primarily because it doesn’t fit in our portfolio,” Brashear said. “We’ve been getting out of all our military units, except for communications.”
The primary customer of the Motorola Israel’s fuse unit was the Israeli Military Industries LTD (IMI), and the fuzes have been used in cluster, “bunker-buster,” and other bombs.
Cluster munitions are notorious anti-personnel devices whose export was recently banned by the US government. Each cluster bomb is composed of hundreds of exploding “bomblets” that spray metal shrapnel over a large area. Cluster bombs also typically leave behind unexploded bomblets, which, much like land mines, continue to pose a lethal threat after military conflict has ended.
During the 2006 Lebanon war, Israeli forces fired some 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million bomblets, into southern Lebanon. These cluster munitions had a failure rate of 14% and left behind at least 100,000 unexploded bomblets. The United Nations determined in 2007 that 26% of southern Lebanon's cultivatable land remained affected by cluster bombs.
Motorola also has made “proximity” fuzes, which cause bombs to detonate in the air just above ground (prior to impact), producing an aerial fireball, and “delay” fuzes, which may be timed to explode up to 48 hours after combat deployment.
3. Motorola Israel: Communications
In 1999, Motorola Israel won the tender for a $100 million dollar contract to provide a nationwide military cellular network for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Code-named "Mountain Rose" (Vered Harim in Hebrew), this data-encrypting communications system gives military commanders, soldiers, and civilian leaders an unprecedented level of mobility.
Mountain Rose was first put to combat use in Israel’s war on Lebanon in 2006, during which it provided the Israeli military with secure voice communications, text messaging, transmission of satellite and reconnaissance photography, and other data on an integrated, self-contained network. In 2008,Defense News reported that “the IDF’s C4 Directorate is accelerating investment in secure tactical communications systems such as the Mountain Rose cellular telephone by Motorola Israel.”
Motorola’s involvement in Israel’s illegal settlements renders it complicit in violations of human rights and international law. By providing support for settlements and their related infrastructure, Motorola plays a role in ensuring that settlement expansion will continue, in violation of international law, and to the detriment of the Palestinian population.