Trade union members numbering in the hundreds obstructed the entrance of the United Kingdom’s leading weapons manufacturer, urging an instant halt to the provision of arms to Israel in response to the severe military actions in the Gaza Strip.
On Friday, protesters assembled outside the BAE Systems facility in Rochester, Kent, displaying Palestinian flags and vocalizing slogans such as “End Arms Supply to Israel,” “Call for Ceasefire,” and questioning the human cost with chants like “How many kids have you killed today?”
A spokesperson stated that over 400 trade union members participated in the initiative at the facility. The union advocates were demanding a cessation of the UK government’s involvement in what they perceive as war crimes in Palestine.
This entails discontinuing arms sales to the occupying authority and advocating for an urgent ceasefire. A participant in the protest, a teacher affiliated with the National Education Union, expressed deep distress, especially as an educator witnessing the bombing of 185 schools and other educational institutions in Gaza.
“As a teacher, seeing 185 schools and other educational institutions in Gaza bombed is utterly heartbreaking.
We’re here today to disrupt the Israeli war machine and take a stand against our government’s complicity and we urge workers across the UK to take similar action in their workplaces and communities,” she added.
The BAE Systems-operated factory under blockade asserts that it doesn’t directly export equipment to Israel. However, activists argue that the company, encompassing the currently obstructed site, “supplies 15% of the components in the F-35 fighter jets currently deployed in the bombardment of Gaza.”
Campaigners estimate that the value of components provided by BAE Systems to Israel could exceed £300 million since 2016. In addition to the protest at the BAE Systems facility, similar demonstrations occurred outside Israeli-owned factories in the UK.
It’s notable that two of Israel’s major weapons manufacturers, Elbit and Rafael, both maintain operations in the United Kingdom.
Since the commencement of its genocidal campaign in the Gaza Strip on October 7, the governments of the UK, the United States, and member states of the European Union have been supplying Israel with weapons and military aid.
According to Palestinian officials in the besieged Gaza Strip, the Israeli regime has deployed over 32,000 tons of explosives in its sustained war of aggression on the territory.
The continuous bombardment has resulted in the death and injury of over 40,000 Palestinians, with a majority being women and children.