By Lyndal Rowlands, Al Jazeera, November 15, 2023
Protests at shipping ports and a unique court case are bringing attention to Australian weapons exports to Israel amid the war on Gaza, a trade that critics describe as secretive and unaccountable.
“Few people know that Australia has one of the most secretive, unaccountable weapons export systems in the world,” Australian Greens Senator David Shoebridge told the Australian Senate on Tuesday.
A legal challenge launched in Australia’s high court on Monday by Palestinian and Australian human rights organisations is also seeking to shed light on the shadowy trade.
The case, which is a first of its kind in Australia, comes as Australian supporters of Palestine have joined the international “block the boat” movement to protest against arms shipments to Israel.
A protest at Sydney’s Port Botany expected on Saturday followed a similar protest at the Port of Melbourne on Wednesday where activists lay down in front of trucks carrying cargo for the Israeli shipping company Zim.
But determining whether shipments from Australia do, in fact, include weapons that are being sent to Israel is difficult due to a general lack of transparency around Australia’s growing military export industry.
“Our government doesn’t tell us who we’re exporting weapons to; doesn’t tell us what the weapons are; doesn’t tell us who profits here in Australia from the sale of weapons,” Shoebridge said in the Senate this week.