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From Beit Alpha to the apartheid regime in South Africa: the history of the Makhtazeit - Walla! News


Since the Israel Police began using the tool, about 15 years ago, there has been a public debate in view of the dangers inherent in hitting the water jets that are sprayed with force on demonstrators. The use of the tool, which in the beginning was created in a small kibbutz in the north - has become routine, and has reached the darkest dictatorships in the world

On video: Makhtezit to evacuate protesters in protest of the legal revolution, Azrieli, Tel Aviv March 1, 2023 (official website)

The operation of the Makhtazyots (spray cars - AA) by the Israel Police for the purpose of dispersing demonstrations is an action that arouses controversy.

Since the Israel Police began using this measure, about 15 years ago, there has been a debate in view of the inherent dangers of being hit by the jets of water that were sprayed with force on the demonstrators.

Similar debates are going on in other countries where machtazits are used for the purpose of dispersing demonstrations.

The machtazits in service of the Israel Police are manufactured by the company "Beit Alpha Technologies".

The company was established in the late seventies by Kibbutz Beit Alfa to manufacture trailers and fire trucks.

In the mid-1980s, the factory also began producing the Makhtaziyot. A few years ago, the company was sold - and it no longer belongs to Kibbutz Beit Alfa.

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The Olive Branch of the Israel Police, Jerusalem. Archive photo (Photo: Erez Michaeli)

For years, anger and criticism arose among many Israelis at the connection between the kibbutz, which is considered one of the symbols of the national kibbutz movement, and the same vehicle designed to spread protests and demonstrations around the world.

Before the phrase "Olive" was coined, the vehicle in question was called a "water cannon" and thus, in the late 1980s, it was claimed that Beit Alfa was selling water cannons to the apartheid regime in South Africa. Beit Alfa denied this at the time and claimed that these were water cannons from a competing company. Shortly

after Then, it was claimed that Beit Alfa sold the same vehicles to disperse demonstrations to Chile, which was then headed by the dictator Augusto Pinochet. It was also claimed that the company intended to sell the vehicle to Zimbabwe, which was then ruled by the dictator Robert Mugabe. This sale was banned by the Ministry of Defense.

At that time, a deal was made to sell the water cannons to the regime in South Korea.

Although South Korea was then under a democratic regime, after a period of political instability, this deal was also criticized, even domestically.

At Beit Alfa there was someone who anonymously attacked the factory manager and said: "Our friend apparently forgot the basic principles that formed the basis for the establishment of the economy. Several years ago he tried to sell cannons similar to those to the racist regime in South Africa."

At the members' assembly, it was then decided by an overwhelming majority that Kibbutz Beit Alfa would not be a party to the dark schemes of oppressive regimes and the deal was cancelled.

Usually, in those cases where criticism was directed at Beit Alpha, the kibbutz responded that the water spraying machines they provide actually prevent the use of more dangerous means and save the use of firearms and prevent injury to human life.

They admitted then that it is indeed possible to add tear gas and even cyanide to water, but they are not responsible for such problematic use, if it is indeed done.

Olive Police Station at Kaplan Junction, Tel Aviv (Photo: Reuven Castro)

Precisely when the Israeli police began to use the olive mace, there was almost no public debate about it in Israel. On a few occasions, criticism was directed at the police in the face of incidents of water jets being sprayed at demonstrations by ultra-Orthodox, Ethiopian expatriates and Balfour protests. The strong jets from a too close range and also when an odorous substance mixed with water is used.

The production of machetes was not the main activity of the factory, but in view of the debates that arose from time to time, it was the item most associated with "Beit Alfa trailers".

Now that the factory is no longer in their hands, no one wants to refer to that controversial tool that they produced for about thirty years.

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Source: walla

All news articles on 2023-03-24

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