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Activists disrupt work at UK factories building F-35 parts used by Israel

Protesters from the Workers for a Free Palestine form a blockade outside a warplane manufacturing unit in Govan near Glasgow.

Four British arms factories supplying components for the F-35 stealth fighter jets used by Israel to bomb Gaza have been temporarily shut down by hundreds of workers and demonstrators protesting against the Israeli genocide in Gaza.

Footage posted online on Thursday showed activists blocking the entrances into the factories. 

The factories are: Eaton Mission Systems in Bournemouth, BAE Systems at Samlesbury Aerodrome in Lancashire, L3Harris factory in Brighton, and the BAE Systems Govan site in Glasgow.

L3-Harris’ systems are integral to several US combat aircraft including the F-22, F/A-18 and F-35. It also manufactures bomb-release mechanisms for the F-35 combat aircraft and Reaper drone, both of which are deployed by Israel in Gaza. 

A trade unionist from the group Workers for a Free Palestine, which helped organize Thursday’s action, said it was a necessary step to support the Palestinians trapped in Gaza. 

“The fighter jets these factories help to produce are being used to imprison the people of Gaza in a death trap. They are ordered to evacuate when they have nowhere safe to go, while our government still refuses to back a ceasefire,” said a trade union worker. “Workers all over Britain are rising up for Palestine, saying we will not allow arms used in a genocide to be supplied in our name and funded by our taxes.” 

The F-35 is built by Lockheed Martin in the United States, with the help of international partners, including British factories, which supply the components. 

Earlier this year, Israel placed an additional order of 25 F-35 aircraft in a deal worth $3 billion. With that order, Israel will be in possession of 75 F-35 warplanes.

Workers in other parts of Europe, including the Netherlands, France and Germany, held similar demonstrations.

Earlier this week, Dutch lawyers petitioned a court to demand the Netherlands’ government stop exporting F-35 components that could be used by Israel. 

‘Israel used US-made munitions to kill 43 civilians in Gaza’

Amnesty International has conducted an investigation that showed a US-made weapons guidance system was used in two Israeli airstrikes in Gaza in October that killed 43 people.

Fragments of the US-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) guidance system were found in the rubble of destroyed homes in the neighborhood of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, according to a report released by the human rights organization on Tuesday. 19 children, 14 women, and 10 men were killed in the strike, Amnesty said.

“JDAM is a guided air-to-surface weapon that uses either the 2,000-pound BLU-109/MK 84, the 1,000-pound BLU-110/MK 83 or the 500-pound BLU-111/MK 82 warhead as the payload. JDAM enables employment of accurate air-to-surface weapons against high priority fixed and re loadable targets from fighter and bomber aircraft,” Amnesty said.

The human rights organization said it “did not find any indication that there were any military objectives at the sites” of the airstrikes or that the individuals living in the homes were legitimate military targets.

“The organization found that these air strikes were either direct attacks on civilians or civilian objects or indiscriminate attacks,” the report said.

“Based upon the heavy damage to the target and surrounding buildings, the bomb that struck the al-Najjar residence (pictured below) probably weighed 2,000 lb (907 kg), while the weapon that hit the Abu Mu’eileq home is likely to have weighed at least 1,000 lb (454 kg).”

“The fact that US-made munitions are being used by Israeli military in unlawful attacks with deadly consequences for civilians should be an urgent wake-up call to the (Joe) Biden administration. The US-made weapons facilitated the mass killings of extended families,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary-general.

Israel has been one of the world’s largest recipients of US military technology. The States has long been giving Israel advanced weaponry such as the F-35 and missile defense systems in addition to a wide range of sophisticated weaponry.

On December 6, Israel said it had received the “200th cargo plane carrying military equipment” from the United States.

In a recent post on X, Israel said over 10,000 tonnes of military equipment have been delivered by the US since early October.

Israel’s great benefactor, the Unites States, has been providing the regime with virtually $3.1 billion in annual military assistance.

Following the surprise Operation Al-Aqsa Storm on October 7 by the Palestinian resistance group Hamas against the regime, Washington has pledged it will provide further military assistance to Israel.

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