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Activists target Britain’s defence ministry over arms sales to Israel

April 11, 2024 at 9:40 am

UK Ministry of Defence headquarters building in London, United Kingdom on 24 July 2022 [Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images]

A group of pro-Palestine activists sprayed red paint on the UK Ministry of Defence London headquarters Wednesday to protest arms sales to Israel.

The joint action was carried out by members of the groups Palestine Action and Youth Demand, who called on both the Conservative and Labour parties to commit to imposing a two-way arms embargo on Israel.

“This ministry does not defend, it murders…We no longer accept the continuation of this death project as the UK allows the funding of arms to Israel,” said Youth Demand, sharing video footage from the protest on X.

Palestine Action said on X that the ministry gives contracts worth hundreds of millions of British pounds “to Elbit Systems and train the Israeli military.”

“The Ministry of Defense is drenched in the colour of Palestinian bloodshed spilt by their ongoing dealings with the Israeli military and Elbit Systems,” it added.

The footage also showed police officers arresting the protesters on the scene.

Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said the Armed Forces “can’t and won’t be intimidated.”

Calling the activists “cowardly criminals,” Shapps said on X that he is “glad to see (them) arrested.”

Quoting the secretary’s post, Youth Demand said: “Ah Yes Shapps, 5 people with some red paint are the real criminals, not those allowing the massacre of children, aid workers and doctors.”

READ: Pro-Palestine activists target another factory in UK for ties with Israel

Separately, Palestine Action targeted electronic components supplier Avnet’s facility in Waltham Park, Berkshire early Wednesday over supplying “electronics for Elbit’s weaponry and F-35 fighter jets used by the Israeli military.”

Images shared on X showed the building’s facade spray-painted and with broken windows.

Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms manufacturer, supplies 85% of the land and air munitions used by its military.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive against the Gaza Strip since a 7 October cross-border attack by the Palestinian Resistance group, Hamas, which killed less than 1,200 people.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

More than 33,500 Palestinians have since been killed and nearly 76,000 injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war, now on day 186, has pushed 85 per cent of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which, in January, issued an interim ruling that ordered it to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

READ: UK is ‘complicit’ in Israel’s killing of British aid workers in Gaza, says CAAT