On Tuesday 26 June 2018 pro Palestine and anti arms trade activists staged a ‘die in’ outside the Undersea Defence Technology weapons fair at Glasgow SEC.
In May this year, the Israeli Defence Forces opened fire on demonstrators who were marking the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (when hundreds of thousands of Palestinian people were forced to flee their homes during the creation of the state of Israel). Activists lay on the ground with white sheets over them to represent the Palestinian people who have been killed by the Israeli military. The names and ages of those killed were read out in commemoration.
Organisers highlighted the direct links between weapons components made in Scotland with deaths of Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank. Thales, BAE Systems and Raytheon are all weapons manufacturers with operations in Scotland and lucrative relationships to the Israeli state and Elbit Systems, the largest Israeli weapons company and main supplier of Israeli Defence Forces’s military arsenal.
Israeli firm DSIT solutions are attending the UDT conference to exhibit the military technology used to stop Palestinians in Gaza leaving the blockaded territory by sea. The Aquashield technology has been used by the Israeli Navy since the turn of the decade, and Israeli commentators have said it was crucial during the 2014 “Operation Protective Edge”, otherwise known as the Gaza war. Over 2000 Palestinians were killed during the attacks.
Zara Murphy, one of the organisers, said “We act in solidarity with the people of Palestine in naming those who have been murdered by the Israeli military using weapons and technology that those present at this event profit from. Representatives and customers from these companies will be here today and we hope the image of bodies brings home to them the direct human consequences of their industry which profiteers from human suffering and war. It is unconscionable that this event would take place without an attempt to give voice to those directly affected by the weapons industry. Right here on the Clyde we have Thales producing components for drones used against Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the West Bank. We want to say, not here, not anywhere”.
This show of solidarity is in response to a call to action issued by Gaza based civil society organisations this month which states: “Following the media coverage of the massacre that Israel carried out against us on the first day of our march, we have been receiving less and less media coverage.Yet more and more of us are being killed every day. Gaza has been bombarded night and day too. Since the start of the Great March of Return, over 135 unarmed protesters have been shot dead and more than 14,000 wounded by the occupation forces, including children, medical staff, journalists, and the disabled. Gaza’s health system has been pushed to the brink of collapse, as hospitals struggle to handle an influx of serious and life-threatening injuries.”
The day of resistance to the UDT weapons fair has been organised by Sink the Arms Fair coalition. Groups include Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Scotland Against Militarism, Campaign Against Arms Trade, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The arms fair is being supported by Glasgow Life whilst Glasgow City Council has removed it’s branding from the website. Organisers say that hosting the exhibition goes against the values of Glasgow, a city twinned with Bethlehem in Palestine’s Occupied West Bank.