War profiteer of the month: ISPRA

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A drone sits on the ground. It has long legs and six arms with rotors. Underneath is a grey box with the word "ISPRA" on the front
ISPRA's cyclone drone system

ISPRA ltd is an Israeli company founded in 1969, and uses the tag line “smart solutions for riot control”. The company specialises in the production of tear gas and other “non-lethal” or “less than lethal” ammunition. ISPRA exports to countries around the world and is a major supplier to the Israeli police and military. However, they have a relatively limited online presence, with minimal information available on who they export to, their financial status, number of employees, or annual reports.

ISPRA produces a wide range of different types of ammunition, including tear gas and “stun” rounds (ammunition designed to be shot over the head of a group of people and produces a 140db blast noise), rubber impact rounds, colour dye rounds (to mark suspects),  for a range of different gauges. They manufacture “high flow” tear gas grenades and “double purpose” grenades designed to which are marketed as “causing confusion, disorientation of the crowd, suppressing their high motivation and extreme aggression capabilities”. ISPRA market their OC pepper spray as “organic”, meaning it is “easy to decontaminate its affected environment after use”.

ISPRA canisters were reported to be used in Azerbaijan in 2013, and the Omega Research Foundation identified canisters used against anti-graft protesters in Kenya in 2016.

ISPRA regularly exhibit at a range of arms fairs around the world, including the ADEX event in Seoul, South Korea, MiliPol in France in 2017, and the the Kadex arms fair in Kazakhstan in 2014.

Cyclone riot system

The Cyclone system is installed on drones to deploy tear gas on protesters. According to the company’s marketing information, the Cyclone allows police “to react against rioters and demonstrators at an early stage of the event, at a distance while avoiding direct confrontation with rioters.” Videos on the company’s website shows a drone being loaded with tear gas canisters and flown over a target ground, before dropping a number of tear gas canisters. The company describes the weapon as accurate with a long range, and easy to reload.

Foreign Policy magazine described the use of the Cyclone or a similar system in March 2018 as perhaps “the first-ever nation observed using armed consumer drones in a real-world setting.” FP referenced a video shot by the Lebanese news network Haaretz which showed a drone dropping tear gas canisters on protesters in Gaza before flying away.

According to the research organisation “Who Profits”, on 30 March 2018, “identical technology was used against protesters in Gaza taking part in the Great March of Return marking the 42nd anniversary of Land Day.”

Thunderstorm tear gas launcher

In 2015 ISPRA launched the Thunderstorm multi barrel launcher. The weapon is fitted to the top of a truck and allows the user to rapidly fire multiple rounds of tear gas up to 210m. ISPRA advertises the Thunderstorm as also being able to fire CS smoke grenades, and stun grenades.

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