Visible from the top of Brighton’s iconic i360 tower, our message of hope and solidarity for 2017 to the people of Palestine.
Viva Palestina! With love from Brighton & Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Monday 19 December 2016
Human rights campaigners today held a demonstration outside the Thales arms factory in Crawley to protest the company’s collaboration with Israeli arms giant Elbit Systems in the manufacture of drones used against the Palestinian population of Gaza.
In parallel protests, there were demonstrations at other Elbit factories in the UK. Monday was therefore the first co-ordinated national day of action against Elbit Systems in the UK.
Thales (UK) works with the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems to develop the Watchkeeper drone, modelled on Elbit’s Hermes 450 drone used extensively over Gaza. Thales therefore profits from Israel’s war crimes and is a major target in the STOP ARMING ISRAEL campaign.
Activists from Brighton and Hove were joined by activists from Hastings and from the Crawley Green Party, who wished to support the ‘Arms to Renewals’ message of the demonstration.
The protest is part of a wider campaign to achieve an end to the lucrative two-way arms trade between the UK and Israel.
The UK’s Watchkeeper drone has been developed under a £1 billion joint venture contract awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence to Thales UK and Israel’s Elbit Systems, allowing the UK military to benefit from technologies that have been ‘field tested’ on the Palestinians.
The Watchkeeper drone project illustrates the collaboration between the UK government and Israel, and the joint working between private arms companies from both countries.
The Crawley factory is one of Thales’s largest facilities in the UK. The Crawley factory has been the target of several earlier protests in 2016. Thales’s other sites have been targeted for protest by human rights protesters. For example, in September 2014 activists from Glasgow Palestine Action staged a protest at the Thales site in Govan (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-29325338). Several of Thales’s sites in France have also been targeted for protest.
The demo outside the Thales arms factory in Crawley was an important part of the campaign for a two-way arms embargo against Israel, as called for by the Palestinian BDS National Committee:
“A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue. It would form a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region and would constitute an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law.”
The December 19th protest
The Crawley demonstration was organised by Sussex Stop Arming Israel (SSAI), a coalition of groups and individuals campaigning for justice for the Palestinian people by exposing companies in Sussex complicit in war crimes by the Israeli regime. SSAI is part of the wider global Stop Arming Israel movement, which in the UK campaigns for an arms embargo – an end to the deadly and lucrative arms trade between Israel and the UK (stoparmingisrael.org). This in turn is one element of the international movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in support of the Palestinians’ liberation struggle (see bdsmovement.net).
Ben Steele, one of the SSAI activists, said in a statement:
“We are joining human rights activists around the country today to draw attention to the deadly and lucrative arms trade between the UK and Israel, and its tragic human consequences for the people of Palestine. We’ll be outside the Thales factory in Crawley to send a clear message to Thales that:
Sunday 27 November 2016
As part of an international week of action targeting Hewlett Packard, pro-Palestine activists today took the “Stop HP” message to customers and staff at the Currys PC World megastore in Hove.
We were calling on Currys PC World to stop stocking HP products, and we were calling on customers to sign the pledge to boycott HP. This week, the same message will be conveyed in over 100 towns and cities worldwide, including 30+ towns and cities in the UK. For more information visit the StopHP website.
Inside the store, we read out the inspiring stories of Palestinians from Gaza, who explained how HP is complicit in Israel’s 10-year siege of Gaza by administering the Israeli navy’s IT infrastructure. Nour’s story really emphasised this connection:
“I cannot find any justification for dealing with, or buying Israeli products, or from any company that support them such as Hewlett Packard (HP), who are complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and human rights.”
Hewlett Packard doesn’t just make printers and laptops. HP is also complicit in Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestinian land and Israel’s grave breaches of international law. HP provides Israel with specialised technologies which are integral to Israel’s system of oppression of the Palestinian people. For more information visit the StopHP website.
HP profits from the discrimination and oppression of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and within Israel. So together with people around the world we are campaigning to end HP’s involvement in Israel’s oppression.
The report ‘Arming Apartheid: UK Complicity in Israel’s Crimes Against the Palestinian People’ details how the UK arms trade with Israel makes the UK complicit in Israel’s continuing violations of human rights and international law. The Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014, in which 2,205 Palestinians (including 521 children) were killed, is just one example of Israel’s indiscriminate acts of violence against the Palestinian people.
Yet UK-made weapons and military technologies continue to be sold to and used by the occupying Israeli forces. The UK Government has admitted it issued arms export licences for equipment which could be used by the Israeli military in Gaza, yet no licences were suspended or revoked, despite the continuing violence. In the four months that followed the bombardment, it approved at least a further £4 million worth of arms sales to Israel. If the government’s own export guidelines were properly applied, the result would be a de facto embargo on arms exports to Israel.
At the same time, the UK imports Israeli military hardware and components. The UK also provides training, in the UK, for Israeli military personnel. Israeli military and industry sources openly attribute the success of Israeli exports to the weapons and technologies being ‘combat proven’. This means that when the UK imports Israeli arms, it is helping Israel benefit from unlawful practices.
We demand that the UK government impose an immediate two-way arms embargo against Israel.
Use the form below to sign our online petition, calling on the UK government to impose an immediate two-way arms embargo on Israel.
Supporters of freedom for Gaza installed an impressive message of solidarity in one of the open spaces in Brighton. This was at the foot of the new i360 tower on the seafront, which carries 200 people in a glass pod to a height of 450 feet.
Passengers in the pod were so moved by the message that they photographed and filmed it and sent it to their friends via Twitter and Instagram. The photos have now been seen all over the world – including in Gaza!
Congratulations to the team that created this inspiring message. More photos below – and watch the video taken from the i360 glass pod as it ascends above the city!
END THE SIEGE OF GAZA!
END THE ARMS TRADE WITH ISRAEL!
SIGN OUR PETITION CALLING ON AN ARMS EMBARGO OF ISRAEL!
GAZA – THE FACTS
Gaza is an ancient centre of habitation that has survived for 4,000 years, at various times in the face of marginalisation and destruction. Today it is under siege by Israel and kept alive through external funding and the ingenuity and persistence of its people.
The people of Gaza struggle to get enough drinking water and electricity, or to send their children to school.
Israel has repeatedly attacked Gaza in the most brutal way. The people are trapped, sitting targets in Israel’s continuous oppression of all Palestinian people.
We’re very pleased to announce that films of our June 4th concert, featuring musicians from the Gaza Music School, are now available on YouTube. The links are set out below. These excellent films were made by the team at Lean Media. Please circulate the links widely on your networks – the films really deserve to be widely enjoyed and discussed.
There are four films:
1. A documentary of the concert, with excerpts from the performance intercut with comments from the musicians and from local organisers (13 minutes).
2. Part 1 of the full concert (1 hour).
3. Part 2 of the full concert (1 hour).
4. A playlist of the concert, with individual pieces listed separately.