Dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters have blocked the entrances to a BAE Systems factory in southeast England, targeting Britain’s biggest military supplier to call for an end to arms sales to “Israel”.
Holding up a sign saying “Stop Arming Israel” and waving Palestinian flags, about 50 people stood in front of one entrance at the Rochester site, where BAE tests and assembles electronic equipment used on military aircraft and in surveillance systems.
NEW: A massive protest of hundreds of activists from @Workers4Pal has shut down the BAE Systems factory in Rochester, England. The factory makes parts for F35 fighter jets dropping bombs on Gaza right now. Free Palestine, shut down the arms industry complicit in genocide!🇵🇸🇵🇸 pic.twitter.com/9CdM97UtTO
— Lukas Slothuus (@lslothuus) November 10, 2023
Dozens of protesters gathered at other entrances.
BAE said it does not directly export any equipment to “Israel”, but the group is a tier-one supplier on the United States-made F-35 fighter jets which are flown by Israel.
“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,” a BAE spokesperson said.
“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.”
The protest at the British facility follows actions by unions in Belgium and Spain that have refused to handle shipments of military items because of the war in Gaza.
Earlier this week, the Union of Loading and Stevedoring Workers at the Port of Barcelona refused to load or unload any military material. In late October, a Belgian transport workers’ unions called on their members not to deal with military equipment sent to “Israel”.
There have been regular demonstrations in cities across Europe in recent weeks in support of Palestinians in Gaza.
A large pro-Palestinian rally due to take place on Saturday in London has sparked controversy because it coincides with the anniversary of the end of World War I, raising fears that counter-demonstrations could also take place in the capital.
Sources: News Agencies