Pro-Palestinian protesters block entrances to BAE defence plant
BAE says it does not directly export any equipment to Israel but the group is a tier-one supplier on the US-made F-35 fighter jets which are flown by Israel
Protestors and trade unionists blockade BAE Systems Rochester, during a protest in support of Palestinians in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rochester, Kent, Britain, on November 10, 2023. (REUTERS/Susannah Ireland)
DOZENS of pro-Palestinian protesters blocked the entrances to a BAE Systems factory on Friday (10), 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, Kent, site, where BAE tests and assembles electronic equipment used on military aircraft and in surveillance systems.
Tens 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, alluding to the war between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
“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 facility follows action taken by unions in Belgium and Spain who have refused to handle shipments of military material over the war in Gaza.
Israel has besieged and invaded Gaza vowing to destroy its ruling Hamas group in the wake of Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel that it says killed 1,400 people. Israel’s Gaza onslaught has killed over 10,000 people, health officials in Gaza say.
Earlier this week, the Barcelona port stevedores’ union refused to load or unload any military material, while in late October, Belgian transport workers’ unions called on their members not handle military equipment being sent to Israel.
There have been regular demonstrations in cities across Europe in recent weeks to show support for Gaza’s Palestinians.
A large pro-Palestinian march planned for Saturday (11) in London has caused controversy as it coincides with the anniversary of the end of World War One, prompting fears that counter-protesters could also descend on the capital.