EventsEventsPodcasts
Loader
Find Us
ADVERTISEMENT

Pro-Palestinian protesters blockade Israel-linked arms factory in UK

A screen grab of footage of the protest.
A screen grab of footage of the protest. Copyright Palestine Action
Copyright Palestine Action
By Joshua Askew
Published on
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

The UK is a significant supplier of weapons to Israel, though watchdogs say a lack of transparency means it is difficult to determine what exactly is being sent.

ADVERTISEMENT

More than 100 people blockaded an arms factory in the UK on Thursday, protesting Israel's alleged use of British weapons to attack Gaza. 

Trade unionists and activists picketed a site in Kent, southern England, belonging to Instro Precision, a subsidiary of one of Israel's largest weapons manufacturers Elbit Systems.  

Instro specialises in military-grade electro-optical equipment that is used to locate targets, alongside surveillance and reconnaissance. 

The company has been approached for comment. 

"Across the country, people are rising up to shut down the production of weaponry destined for use in Israel’s ongoing massacre of the Palestinian people," wrote the activist group Palestine Action on Instagram, publishing a video of the picket under cloudy skies.

"These actions represent the strength in numbers of those willing and ready to take direct action to shut down the Israeli war machine," added the activist group in a press release sent to Euronews. 

Demonstrators - including teachers, academics and doctors - held signs that read "Workers for a free Palestine" and "UK Funds Genodice", calling to "end all forms of complicity with Israel's crimes." 

Instro makes weapons sights for infantry and heavy artillery, including night vision and thermal systems mounted on weapons and heavy machine guns. 

In 2019, an Elbit press release stated that thousands of its XACT th64 and XACT th65 weapons sights had been supplied to the Israeli military. The former is likely used by Israel snipers positioned at the Gaza fence, alleges Palestine Action. 

Instro also produces ultra-long-range imagining systems, which are compatible with drones, and electro-optical targeting devices. 

"Put simply, Instro makes equipment to locate targets (i.e. people) in order to destroy or kill them," Palestine Action says on its website

Separately, a lock-on and a rooftop occupation disrupted Leicester's UAV Tactical Systems and Howmet Fastening Systems, which supply Israel. 

Thursday's protest comes amid relentless Israeli strikes against the Gaza Strip that have killed at least 7,000, including 3,000 children, according to officials in the besieged Palestinian enclave. Violence broke out after Hamas militants attacked southern Israel on 7 October, killing 1,400 people and taking hundreds of hostages. 

The UK is a significant supplier of weapons to Israel, providing components that make up 15% of each F35 fighter jet currently being used in Israel’s bombardment, according to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT). 

They "conservatively" estimate these sales are worth £336m (€385m) since 2016. 

ADVERTISEMENT

In a statement sent to Euronews, the monitor said the "most significant" arms exports from the UK to Israel are via open licenses, which it said "mean it can be to determine exactly what has been transferred."

Licenses it called "concerning" could include components, equipment, software and technology for combat aircraft and helicopters, and one for artillery components and equipment for munitions, missiles, military radars and their accessories. 

Between 2018 and 2022, CAAT said the UK has issued less opaque "single issue licences" valued at £146m (€167m). The largest sale within that period was for military training and aerial targeting equipment. 

“Arms sales to Israel need to be halted immediately," said Emily Apple. "Israel is committing war crimes against the Palestinian people in its ongoing siege and bombardment of Gaza, causing a humanitarian catastrophe and killing thousands of civilians."

ADVERTISEMENT

The government and UK industry were "complicit in these war crimes," she added.

"Stopping these sales would send a clear message to the Israeli government that the international community will not tolerate the deliberate targeting of civilians in this conflict.” 

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem last week, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was "proud" to support Israel in its "long war" against Hamas, which he branded "pure evil".

"We will stand with you in solidarity, we will stand with your people. And we also want you to win," he told reporters last week.

ADVERTISEMENT
Share this articleComments

You might also like

Israeli jets strike Lebanon following Hezbollah rocket fire

Israeli strikes kill more than 175 people in Gaza as truce ends, health officials say

WATCH: King Charles' opening of new parliament of the United Kingdom