Resisting the sale and export of weapons to apartheid Israel is a direct way to challenge the state’s support for Israel’s military occupation of Palestine and is an important part of the BDS campaign. Israel’s occupation and repression of the Palestinians is perpetuated by a steady flow of arms for Europe and the US. Britain is the 4th largest exporter of arms in the world and plays a significant role in arming Israel.
The BIG campaign is calling for campigners to lobby the government to stop arms exports to Israel and to directly challenge companies in the UK who are manufacturing arms for Israel, either directlty or indirectly.
We are calling on campaigners to contact MPS and call for military sanctions against Israel (click here for a summary of what miltary sanctions would mean). Britain issues export licences to UK based companies who are exporting military equipment to Israel. in 2008 Public Interest Lawyers and Al Haq brought an appeal to the High Court on behalf of a Palestinian called Saleh Hasan calling on BERR to disclose their reasons for granting export licenses to Israel. The case is ongoing. In February 2009 the same team read a statement in the High Court calling for a cessation of export licenses to Israel in light of the recent war crimes in Gaza.
Challenging Local Arms Manufacturers
BIG call for campaigners to challenge British arms manufacturers who are exporting weapons to Israel, either directly or indirectly, and multinational companies who export arms to Israel. These Companies include Boeing, Lockheed, UAV systems, CATerpillar, EDO MBM/ITT and BAE systems. Many activists have launched local campaigns to stop arms being manufactured in their communities being exported to Israel and to challenge multinational companies involved in supplying arms to Israel.
UK Arms Companies supplying Israel and campaigns against them:
EDO/ITT Brighton-based arms company EDO MBM/ITT (formerly EDO MBM), a wholly owned subsidiary of US arms multinational EDO Corp, has been the subject of a relentless direct action campaign due to the company’s complicity in war crimes committed by the US, UK and Israeli armies in Iraq and Palestine.
ITT/EDO produces the ERU-151 (Ejector Release Unit) and ZRFAU (Zero Retention Force Arming Unit), both of which are incorporated in bomb racks used by the F16 war planes that have been used by the Israeli Air Force to commit war crimes in Gaza. These components have been advertised for several years on EDO websites as ‘actively manufactured’ in Brighton, and as ‘used’ and ‘utilized’ on the F16, within its main bombrack, the VER-2. EDO MBM/ITT also has contracts with the UK Ministry of Defence and US arms giant Raytheon to build release mechanisms for the Paveway bomb system (for more details, see here).
On 20 January 2009, the United States Airforce awarded ITT a contract for the manufacture of flexible cable assemblies to connect weapons to the F-15E jet fighter bomber. The equipment is to be manufactured in Brighton and may reach Israel through US exports (see here)
The Smash EDO website has comprehensive information on what and how ITT/EDO supplies the Israeli army as well as on companies doing ‘business’ with ITT/EDO. These include The London & Brighton Plating Company Ltd, Guardian Guards, DHL, TNT, Initial City Link and Challenge Packaging Ltd.
On 17 January 2009, anti-militarist activists forced entry into the EDO Brighton factory and destroyed equipment used to make weapons used in Israel’s wholesale slaughter of civilians in Gaza. The company alleges that the ‘decommissioning’ action has cost £300,000 in lost business. Eight people now face a ‘conspiracy to cause criminal damage’ charge. Two of them also face ‘breach of bail’ charges (for more details, see here). Smash EDO demonstrate every Wednesday, 4-6pm, outside the EDO MBM/ITT factory on Home Farm Road, Brighton.
Raytheon is one of the largest US arms manufacturers and the fifth-largest military contractor in the world, with annual revenues of around $20 billion. The company has big contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has regularly been found guilty of illegal activity (see here). Among other things, Raytheon makes Bunker Buster bombs, Tomahawk and Patriot missiles.
A number of their missiles can be loaded with cluster bombs, which are banned under international law but have, nonetheless, been used by the US and Israeli armies. Raytheon is one of Israel’s main suppliers of weapons used in the recent attacks on Gaza. Through its US and Israeli military relations, the company is said to advocate the expansionist notion of ‘Greater Israel’, which, of course, means more war business and more profits (see here).
In September last year, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees major arms sales, approved the sale of three kits made by Raytheon to upgrade Israel’s Patriot missile system in a deal valued at up to $164 million (see here). Like EDO, Raytheon has been recently the subject of a relentless direct action campaign. In 2006, nine activists forced entry into the Raytheon office in Derry during the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, barricaded themselves inside the office and threw computer equipment out of the windows. In June 2008, a Jury in Belfast found the defendants not guilty of criminal damage on the basis that they acted with ‘reasonable excuse’ (see here). More recently, three protesters occupied the roof of the company offices in Bristol for over five weeks starting on 9 December 2008 (see this report). The rooftop occupation was the third such protest to have targeted Raytheon in the last few months (see the campaign’s blog for more details).
A list of Raytheon locations and contacts can be found on the company’s website.
Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest defence contractor by revenue. Most of the company’s revenues came from the United States Department of Defense, other US federal government agencies, and foreign military customers.
Lockheed Martin’s products include the F-22, F-16, F-117, C-5, C-27J, C-130, P-3 and U-2. It also produces the Hellfire precision-guided missile system, which has reportedly been used in the recent Gaza attacks. In 2008, it reported sales of $42.7 billion. On 4 September 2001, Israel signed a contract with Lockheed Martin for 52 more F-16I fighters. The total value of the purchase was approximately $2bn, with $1.3bn of that going to Lockheed Martin. The deal then increased the Lockheed Martin’s F-16 backlog to 301, with production provisionally extended to the end of 2008. This was Israel’s 6th acquisition of F-16s, the world’s ‘most sought-after’ fighter. Israel possesses the largest fleet of F-16s outside the United States, with more than 350 jets.
In October 2008, Sir David Manning, a former British Ambassador to Israel and the US, joined the board of Lockheed Martin UK Holdings Ltd. as a non-executive director. Manning’s other past diplomatic positions include Deputy Under Secretary for State in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for Defence and Intelligence and the UK Permanent Representative to NATO in Brussels. In 2001, he was also appointed as Foreign Policy Advisor to former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Lockheed Martin’s UK head office is located in central London (22 Carlisle Place, SW1P 1JA), with other locations throughout England (see here).
UAV Engines Ltd (UEL) is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of engines for drones (small, unmanned aircraft) that are becoming critical frontline systems for military and civilian use around the world. The company, known as UEL, is owned by the Israel drone specialists Silver Arrow, a subsidiary of the Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems. Amnesty has recently uncovered evidence that the specially-designed engines for drones used by Israeli forces in targeted air strikes are made in the UK by UAV Engines, which is based in Lichfield, Staffordshire (Lynn Lane, Shenstone, WS14 0DT).
One of its rotary Wankel engines is used in Elbit’s Hermes 450 drone. A version of the 450 drone makes up a squadron of the Israeli air force and has been seen over Gaza in the recent attacks, being used for surveillance and targeting for Israel’s F-16 strike fighters (see here and here).
On 19 January, around 30 people gathered outside the UVA Litchfield factory to protest against the company’s link with the massacre in Gaza. The protest was heavily policed, with one over-zealous arrest (see this report).
Caterpillar Inc, commonly referred to as CAT, is the world’s largest manufacturer of construction (and destruction) equipment, with more than $30 billion in assets. Famous for their products featuring caterpillar tracks and a distinctive yellow paint scheme, Caterpillar produces a wide range of engineering vehicles, including the range of Caterpillar bulldozers.
The US government buys Caterpillar bulldozers and sends them to the Israel army as part of its annual foreign military assistance package. Such sales are governed by the US Arms Export Control Act, which limits the use of US military aid to “internal security” and “legitimate self-defense” and prohibits its use against civilians. Caterpillar held the sole contract for the production of the D9 military bulldozer, specifically designed for use in invasions of built-up areas. Since 1967, Israel has used Caterpillar bulldozers to demolish tens of thousands of Palestinian homes and uproot hundreds of thousands of trees, in Israel’s persistent efforts to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their land and build illegal settlements.
The D9 bulldozer was extensively used by Israel in Israel during ‘Operation Defensive Shield’ in 2001-2, particularly during invasion of Jenin, when countless homes were destroyed by bulldozers and a disabled man was crushed to death. Caterpillar has also profited from the construction of the apartheid separation wall, which has cut off many Palestinian villages from the rest of the West Bank. The wall was built after the destruction and confiscation of large parts of Palestinian land. On 16 March 2003, American peace activist Rachel Corrie was murdered by an Israeli soldier driving a Caterpillar D9 bulldozer as she tried to stop it from destroying a Palestinian home in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza. It is, therefore, difficult to contest that CAT bulldozers are not weapons of mass destruction. Caterpillar still supply spare parts for the maintenance of Israel’s D9s. Caterpillar also produces tank engines at their Caterpillar/Perkins plant in Shrewsbury. Other CAT merchandise includes shoes, clothes and accessories.
A campaign against Caterpillar, known as Caterkiller, has repeatedly taken direct action against the company. A recent CAT sponsorship deal with Leicester Tigers Rugby club has met local opposition. For more details on Caterpillar and the campaign and actions against it, see the campaign’s website. See also War on Want’s report Caterpillar, the alternative report, which includes a list of Caterpillar premises in the UK.
Other arms companies with links to Israel and its war crimes against the Palestinian people include Rolls Royce and Thales. A list of UK arms companies known to have supplied Israel can be found here.