Most people don’t know that two Israeli companies are the main suppliers of irrigation systems in Australia. They are potential targets for Palestinian justice activists keen to extend the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign to rural areas.
Along with the water trade, FIMI / Rivulis and Netafim are deeply involved in the continuing military oppression of the Palestinians. The two companies provide military, surveillance and prison equipment to the Israeli government.
FIMI (First Israel Mezzanine Investors), which describes itself as a leader in “micro-irrigation”, also owns Israeli defense companies.
Netafim is complicit in the displacement of Palestinians by helping Israeli farmers to establish and manage their agricultural businesses.
FIMI / Rivulis
According to its website, FIMI is “the leading private equity firm in Israel with over $ 2 billion in assets.”
In 2014, FIMI bought John Deere Water and renamed it Rivulis Irrigation. Although based in Israel, its head office is in Queensland.
Military Embedded Systems said that in 2018, FIMI purchased US group Aitech Rugged, which designs computer systems for military air and land systems and provides “radiation resistant solutions for military and commercial space markets.”
Aitech vice president Doug Patterson boasted at the time that “FIMI management really understands the aerospace, defense and space markets.”
FIMI owns Israeli defense companies Gilat Satellite Systems and Magal Security Systems, among others, and acquired a controlling stake (55%) in Israel Orbit Technologies in late 2017.
Gilat’s website says it provides “mission critical communications on the move to the front line.” These “fast-to-deploy moving satellite solutions” can, apparently, be “deployed on vehicles, as well as lightweight portable solutions that can be carried in a backpack”.
Its “ultra-small aperture terminal systems that provide seamless connectivity for on-the-go and on-pause missions” are ideal technology and equipment for the Israel Defense Forces in their continued oppression of Palestinians in Gaza.
Magal’s website states that it was established in 1965 as a branch of the Israeli aerospace industry, initially focused on developing “indicative fences for safety.” It was privatized in 1993.
Orbit’s website states that it “develops, manufactures and supplies a wide range of superior performance communications equipment and solutions to serve airborne, maritime and land applications.”
Orbit Communications Systems manufactures precision tracking-based communications for air, sea and land. This is the kind of equipment and technology being deployed in Gaza and the West Bank to keep Palestinians under constant surveillance.
FIMI’s ownership of Magal, Gilat and Orbit Communication Systems makes this apparently benevolent owner of the agricultural company Rivulis complicit in the maintenance of order and subjugation of the Palestinians by the Israeli government.
Netafim Australia started operations in 1993. Its Australian headquarters are in Victoria, while its Israeli headquarters are in Tel Aviv. It is the world’s largest provider of drip irrigation services, with a share of over 30% of the global drip irrigation market.
According to his website, “we are farmers first and then innovators… We started in 1965, in the Negev desert of Israel, trying to grow crops in the desert soil… We know what this is about. is that to cultivate in local and extreme conditions… ”
This means that the business started on land illegally taken from Palestinians and, after developing improved irrigation techniques, Netafim promoted its products to Israeli farmers on illegally occupied Palestinian land and then to the world. .
He boasts: “To date, we have irrigated over ten million hectares of land and produced over 150 billion drippers, for over two million ambitious farmers.
The question is how many of the 2 million “ambitious farmers” were, or could have been, Palestinians?
Netafim currently has 20 resellers for its irrigation products in Adelaide alone. It is one of the largest suppliers of irrigation equipment in Australia, according to a source in the National Party.
The Israel Trade Commission in Sydney notes that Netafim is jointly owned by three kibbutzim (Hatzerim, Magal and Yiftak), the Markstone Investment Fund and the Tene Private Equity Fund.
In 2009, the company’s annual sales totaled $ 504 million.
In 2017, Netafim was acquired by Mexican piping and chemicals company Mexichem SAB in a cash transaction valuing the company at $ 1.9 billion. But its headquarters and management remain in Tel Aviv.
The Australian BDS Campaign, which staged the recent campaign calling on SBS not to broadcast the Tel Aviv Eurovision Song Contest 2019, is campaigning for a boycott of HP, which operates the Israeli government’s population register and identification systems.
They also focused their efforts on Israeli suppliers of fashion items.
We should also seek to raise public awareness of the activities of FIMI / Rivulis, in particular, with its links with the Israeli military and prisons.
[Mark Govier is a member of Australian Friends of Palestine Association.]