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BAE Systems Factory Blockaded Over Links With Israeli Military

A group of over 60 activists from the Cymru Peace Coalition have blockaded one of the UK’s largest munitions factories, holding banners saying “stop arming genocide” and “UK weapons kill.”

In the early hours of Wednesday 3rd January, the group travelled to the BAE Systems factory in Glascoed, near Pontypool and blocked the entrance.

The have take action to highlight what they say is BAE Systems’ complicity in Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza, which has already killed over 21,000 Palestinians, including over 10,000 children.

The International Federation of Human Rights has described the situation as “an unfolding genocide” against the Palestinian people by the government of Israel – including the suspected production of white phosphorous rounds, which are currently banned under international humanitarian law.

BAE Systems is the largest military contractor in Europe and the world’s seventh largest arms company.

It is one of several UK arms firms that supply Israel with a range of weapons systems.

The Cymru Peace Coalition, who organised this morning’s blockade, say that this supply chain has helped the Israeli state kill an estimated 21,000 Palestinian’s in just 89 days.

BAE Systems manufactures parts of the F-35 stealth fighter jet used extensively by the Israeli military in waves of airstrikes against the civilian population of Gaza.

The group says that it has also uncovered research that shows that BAE Systems’ is suspected of supplying 155MM artillery shells, including the banned white phosphor rounds to the Israeli Defence Force.

Citing a research paper it has developed, it says BAE Systems has been given £130 million by the Ministry of Defence to expand its 155mm artillery range, and has partnered with the French arms company Nexter Systems, with Nexter exclusively using the Glascoed site to fill and pack their munitions.

Nexter Systems is also responsible for the production of white phosphorous rounds. White phosophorous rounds are explicitly banned under international humanitarian law, and their use against civilian populations is considered a war crime.

Evidence from the Amnesty International Crisis Evidence Lab, confirmed by the Washington Post and Human Rights Watch, shows that the IDF have used white phosphorous rounds in Gaza and Lebanon.

This is the second action by the Cymru Peace Coalition in recent weeks, having shut down another key supplier of the Israeli military – Elbit systems in Bristol last month.

The collective of peace campaigners, palestine solidarity activists, and people from across a broad spectrum of campaigns has resorted to direct action in response to the UK government’s repeated failure to back an immediate ceasefire in the region, and its backing of the Israeli government’s actions.

A spokesperson from Cardiff Stop the War, who are part of the coalition, said activists had travelled from Cardiff “because we know that the people who have the power to stop this genocide are not going to.”

“We cannot rely on our local elected MP’s or our unelected prime minister to take any action. The UK is an active collaborator and participant in the war crimes committed against Palestinians. We are horrified that the UK is allowing arms manufacturers to operate out of this country despite weeks of demonstrations from the people of this country demanding an end to the UK support of Israel.”

Betty Hunter, Honorary President, Palestinian Solidarity Campaign UK, backed the action against BAE Systems, saying that, “To do nothing about the arms trade with Israel is to be complicit in the genocide of the Palestinian people.

“We refuse to allow our leaders in business and government to go unchallenged. We must stop this shameful trade in arms which dehumanises people in order to destroy them. The world said NEVER AGAIN in1948 with the UN charter. This must be applied to Palestinian rights now. Starting with an immediate ceasefire.”

Roz Scourse, on behalf of Families for a Ceasefire, a group in Wales campaigning for an end to the bombing, said:

“The number of children killed in Gaza now outstrips the entire school age population of Monmouthshire.”

“It is incomprehensible that the weapons being made right here on our doorstep are being used in this mass slaughter. Families for a Ceasefire represent the voice of families in Monmouthshire who want to see an immediate end to this a war on children and are calling for a permanent ceasefire now. Wales must stop arming the genocide of children and families!”

Black Lives Matter Wales have also backed the blockade and a spokesperson said that as the profits of the arms manufacturers increase, so does the death total of innocent Palestinians “at the hands of the terrorist Israeli state.”

“It is our duty to shut down them down. We do not want these death factories in our neighbourhoods, our cities, or our country. Our government might be complicit in genocide, but we are not.”

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