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Campaigners blockade BAE Systems site in Glasgow over ‘Israel ties’

The demonstrators are urging BAE to end their ties with Israel and cease all weapons, defence and supplies trading with them.

Lucinda Cameron
Thursday 07 December 2023 08:34 GMT
Campaigners are staging a blockade at BAE Systems in Glasgow (Hassan Ghani/PA)
Campaigners are staging a blockade at BAE Systems in Glasgow (Hassan Ghani/PA)

Campaigners are staging a blockade at a defence company’s shipyard in Glasgow in protest over its ties to Israel as they call for a ceasefire.

The blockade at the entrances to the BAE Systems site in Govan in Glasgow has been organised by a local group in co-ordination with Workers for a Free Palestine.

The demonstration is one of four across the UK on Thursday morning, with campaigners saying more than 1,000 workers and trade unionists have blockaded four arms factories in England and Scotland.

They are urging BAE and other companies to end their ties with Israel and cease all weapons, defence and supplies trading with them.

They are also calling on the UK Government to back a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and are calling for an end to the occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

More than 600 trade unionists have blocked Eaton Mission Systems in Wimborne near Bournemouth, and hundreds of others have shut down arms factories in Brighton, Lancashire and Glasgow which produce components for the F-35 stealth aircrafts, campaigners said.

The group Workers for a Free Palestine said it is escalating its tactics by targeting four factories at once in different parts of Britain as part of a coordinated international action today.

We won’t stop shutting down these factories until they stop supporting Israel’s murderous war machine

Workers for a Free Palestine spokeswoman

Jenny, a spokeswoman for the Workers for a Free Palestine group, who did not give her surname said: “The fighter jets these factories help to 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 back a ceasefire.

“Workers all over Britain are rising up for Palestine, saying we will not allow arms used in a genocide to be supplied in our name and funded by our taxes.

“Our movement is growing rapidly and gaining more momentum each day.

“We are escalating our tactics and today’s blockades are seeing unprecedented numbers of people take part in the disruption of Israeli arms manufacturing in Britain, in concert with workers targeting Israeli arms suppliers around Europe.

“We won’t stop shutting down these factories until they stop supporting Israel’s murderous war machine.”

Activists holding a banner saying “Stop Arming Israel” could be seen at one of the entrances to the Govan factory, while at another demonstrators held Palestinian flags.

They claim that BAE systems produces components of weapons sold to Israel, such as the F35 combat aircraft and the Mk 38 Mod 2 machine gun system.

Scott, a youth worker aged 26, who did not wish to give his surname, said: “We are not here to shame or blame workers at BAE.

“The company’s management decides what to produce and who to sell to – it is them we hold accountable for being part of the chain of killing.”

Jay, a visual artist aged 24, said: “I came here today to show that direct action is for everyone and that together, we can change the way the world turns.”

A BAE Systems spokesperson said: “We’re horrified by the situation in Israel and Gaza and the devastating impact it’s having on civilians in the region and we hope it can be resolved as soon as possible.

“We respect everyone’s right to protest peacefully. We operate under the tightest regulation and comply fully with all applicable defence export controls, which are subject to ongoing assessment.”

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