Hundreds of workers and protesters have shut down four arms factories across the UK, which supply components for the F-35 stealth fighter jet used by Israel to bomb Gaza. The four weapons factories are Eaton Mission Systems in Bournemouth, BAE Systems at Samlesbury airfield in Lancashire, the L3Harris factory in Brighton and the BAE Systems Govan site in Glasgow.
Each of the four weapons factories supplies the components needed to build the F-35 stealth fighter jet. According to his company website, L3-Harris systems are an integral part of several US fighter aircraft, including the F-22, F/A-18 and F-35. It also makes bomb-delivering mechanisms for the F-35 fighter jet and the Reaper drone, both deployed by Israel in Gaza.
Images posted online showed activists blocking the entrances to the four factories from early in the morning and preventing weapons factory workers from entering the workplaces.
Jenny, a trade unionist with the group Workers for a Free Palestine, which helped organize Thursday’s actions, said the blockade was a necessary step to support Palestinians trapped in Gaza. “The fighter jets that these factories help produce are being used to imprison the people of Gaza in a death trap,” said Jenny.
“The fighter jets that these factories help produce are being used to imprison the people of Gaza in a death trap. They are ordered to evacuate when they have nowhere safe to go, while our government still refuses to support a ceasefire,” Jenny said.
“Workers across Britain are rising up for Palestine, saying we will not allow weapons used in genocide to be supplied in our name and funded by our taxes.
“Our movement is growing rapidly and gaining more momentum every day. “We are stepping up our tactics and today’s blockades are seeing unprecedented numbers of people taking part in disrupting Israeli arms manufacturing in Britain, in concert with workers attacking Israeli arms suppliers across Europe.”
Kay, a health worker who joined the picket outside the Eaton Mission Systems factory in Bournemouth, said his decision to protest was due to the “decimating of Gaza’s health system” with Israeli warplanes.
“The strategy that Israel is using in this genocide is to systematically attack healthcare facilities and systematically attack disabled Palestinians,” Kay said.
“The same UK government that has decimated the NHS and social care services through austerity is using that money to fund British companies like Eaton Mission to arm Israelis to commit their genocide.”
The F-35 fighter jet is built by Lockheed Martin in the United States, with the help of international partners, including British factories, which supply components used to help build the warplanes.
Earlier this year, Israel placed an additional order for 25 F-35 stealth fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, in a deal worth $3 billion.
The 25 additional aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin will bring the number of F-35s in Israel’s air force to 75, the Israeli Defense Ministry said. The purchase will be financed with aid money that Israel receives from the United States.
Miranda Allan, a Palestinian refugee living in the UK, attended the protest at the L3 Harris arms factory in Brighton.
“It is important to stop arming Israel. We need to understand why this war is happening,” she said. “This war is a business, there is gas [en Gaza]. They want to trace the new Silk Road through Gaza. Israel wants to continue with this agenda.
“I was born in a camp in Jordan. Why am I a refugee? I have a beautiful house, a beautiful piece of land near Jaffa (Israel).
“As Palestinians we have seen many things, we have feared a lot, now we are not afraid.”
Actions throughout Europe
Thursday’s actions come as workers in other parts of Europe, including the Netherlands, France and Germany, took similar actions.
Earlier this week, Dutch lawyers asked a court to require the Netherlands to stop exporting F-35 components that could be used by Israel to attack Gaza.
The protests come as Israel continues to bomb Gaza with the support of Western countries, including Britain and the United States.
Since last Friday, more than 900 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli attacks, following a brief truce that ended the release of Palestinian children and women prisoners and Israeli hostages.
The Israeli bombing of Gaza has so far killed more than 16,000 Palestinians in Gaza, with the majority of the dead being women and children. At least 7,000 more are missing, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
With information from Middle East Eye.