Activists invade Thales’ arms complex in Crawley

On July 6, 2016 security at Thales arms factory in Crawley was seriously breached, when anti-arms trade activists entered the Thales complex and unfurled banners reading ‘Thales profits from Israeli War Crimes’ and ‘Tony Blair: War Criminal / Iraq war still illegal / Arrest all arms dealers’.

Thales 06072016 (3)       Thales 06072016 (10)To mark the second anniversary of the assault on Gaza and the publication of the Chilcot report, activists from the south east took  a clear message to Thales arms factory  “You are profiting from war crimes and you are not welcome here!”

This followed a creative and lively demonstration outside Thales’ Crawley factory on 8th April 2016. (https://ssai2016.wordpress.com/)
Thales 06072016 (5)

At the same time groups and campaigners from across the UK were bringing a  noisy demonstration to Elbit’s factory in Lichfield (north of Birmingham) to demand that the UK stops arming Israel and that the factory close.
Thales 06072016 (2)The assault on Gaza of two summers ago, which killed over 2,200 Palestinians, was one of the most brutal examples of Israel’s ongoing occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Each brutal assault on the Palestinian people is met with an escalation of campaigns around the world calling for an arms embargo against Israel.
Thales 06072016 (9)Israeli arms company  Elbit, is manufacturing components in the UK and their factories are being exposed and blockaded.

Thales (UK) works with Elbit Systems to develop the Watchkeeper drone, modelled on Elbit’s Hermes 450 drone used extensively over Gaza. Thales therefore profits from Israeli war crimes and is a major target in the STOP ARMING ISRAEL campaign.

Today’s protests were part of a wider campaign to achieve an end to the lucrative two-way arms trade between the UK and Israel.

Why Thales?

The UK’s Watchkeeper drone has been developed under a £1 billion joint venture contract awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence to Thales UK and Israel’s Elbit Systems, allowing the UK military to benefit from technologies that have been ‘field tested’ on the Palestinians.
The Watchkeeper drone project illustrates the collaboration between the UK government and Israel, and the joint working between private arms companies from both countries.
The Crawley factory is one of Thales’s largest facilities in the UK. Thales’ other sites have been targeted for protest by human rights protesters. For example, in September 2014 activists from Glasgow Palestine Action staged a protest at the Thales site in Govan (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-29325338). Several of Thales’ sites in France have also been targeted for protest.

Protests at Thales arms factory in Crawley are an important part of the campaign for a two-way arms embargo against Israel, as called for by the Palestinian BDS National Committee:
“A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue. It would form a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region and would constitute an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law.”

Ben Steele of Sussex Stop Arming Israel said:
“Two years ago Israel started yet another brutal and prolonged attack on the people of Gaza, which left 2,200 dead. Today is also the day that the Chilcot report is being published following a 7 year investigation into Britain’s role in the Iraq war. Yet, on this momentous day, it is business as usual for arms companies like Thales and Elbit. They continue to churn out their weapons technology to be used in the brutal atrocities of the future.

“We are sending a clear message to Thales that:
•    they are complicit in Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people through their joint enterprise with Israeli arms company Elbit Systems, and
•    arms manufacturers are not welcome in our communities.”

Further details for Friday

Tuesday April 5th

A few further details to add to the info already posted on this website:

Getting to the Thales site from Three Bridges railway station: There are directions elsewhere on this website. A large group will be gathering at the front of the station at 10.30am and walking to the site – you’re welcome to join them.

Please bring noise-making gear: whistles, drums, megaphones, etc.

Please bring banners with the key messages: “Stop Arming Israel!”, “Thales Profits from
Israeli War Crimes!”, “Drones Off Our Doorstep!”

There will be banner-making on the site, and leafleting to be done, so plenty to do!

Live tweeting on the day using hashtag #stoparmingisrael, and
including @thalesgroup within the tweet, and re-tweeting anything from
@SussexSAI. This would be especially useful for people unable to join
the demo.

More soon!

Press release for Thales protest, April 8th

tumblr_nfk05mCRql1qkwgrqo1_500   Protest at Thales Arms Factory in Crawley, West Sussex
“Drones Off Our Doorstep!”
Friday 8 April 2016, 11.00-13.30
Unrestricted Press Release: 5 April 2016

——————————————————

Human rights campaigners from across the southeast of England will demonstrate outside the Thales arms factory in Crawley on Friday April 8th, to protest the company’s collaboration with Israeli arms giant Elbit Systems in the manufacture of drones used against the Palestinian population of Gaza.

Thales (UK) works with the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems to develop the Watchkeeper drone, modelled on Elbit’s Hermes 450 drone used extensively over Gaza. Thales therefore profits from Israeli war crimes and is a major target in the STOP ARMING ISRAEL campaign.

The protest is part of a wider campaign to achieve an end to the lucrative two-way arms trade between the UK and Israel.

Why Thales?
The UK’s Watchkeeper drone has been developed under a £1 billion joint venture contract awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence to Thales UK and Israel’s Elbit Systems, allowing the UK military to benefit from technologies that have been ‘field tested’ on the Palestinians.

The Watchkeeper drone project illustrates the collaboration between the UK government and Israel, and the joint working between private arms companies from both countries.

The Crawley factory is one of Thales’s largest facilities in the UK. Thales’s other sites have been targeted for protest by human rights protesters. For example, in September 2014 activists from Glasgow Palestine Action staged a protest at the Thales site in Govan (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-29325338). Several of Thales’s sites in France have also been targeted for protest.

The demo outside the Thales arms factory in Crawley on April 8th will be an important part of the campaign for a two-way arms embargo against Israel, as called for by the Palestinian BDS National Committee:
“A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue. It would form a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region and would constitute an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law.”

The April 8th protest
The Crawley demonstration is organised by Sussex Stop Arming Israel (SSAI), a coalition of groups and individuals campaigning for justice for the Palestinian people by exposing companies in Sussex complicit in war crimes by the Israeli regime. SSAI is part of the wider global Stop Arming Israel movement, which in the UK campaigns for an arms embargo – an end to the deadly and lucrative arms trade between Israel and the UK (stoparmingisrael.org). This in turn is one element of the international movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in support of the Palestinians’ liberation struggle (see bdsmovement.net).

In a linked action on Friday April 8th, activists from the West Midlands will demonstrate outside the UAV Engines factory in Shenstone, Staffordshire. UAV Engines is owned by Elbit Systems, the Israeli arms giant that collaborates with Thales in the manufacture of drones.

Ben Steele, one of the SSAI activists, said in a statement:

“We have been really heartened by the huge response we’ve had to our Call-out for the 8th of April. Over 30 groups campaigning for justice and human rights have endorsed the protest, and have pledged to join us on the day. We are calling on campaigning groups in London and the South East to endorse, publicise and come along to this demonstration to give a clear message to Thales that:

  • they are complicit in Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people through their joint enterprise with Israeli arms company Elbit Systems, and
  • arms manufacturers are not welcome in our communities.”

Notes for Editors

  1. Thales’s partnership with Israeli arms company Elbit Systems has been widely researched and reported on. See the Sussex Stop Arming Israel website for background (ssai2016.wordpress.com).
  2. The April 8th protest has been endorsed by over 30 groups campaigning for justice and human rights, including War on Want, Campaign Against Arms Trade and Palestine Solidarity Campaign. For a complete list see the SSAI website.
  3. For more information about the protest, contact Ben Steele on 07448 786444.

‘Drone manufacturers off our doorstep’ – plans for the demonstration

cropped-img_0319a.jpg

11am. Friday 11th April

Sussex Stop Arming Israel has been really heartened by the huge response we’ve had to our Call-Out for the 8th of April. Many thanks to all those groups around the country that have supported and endorsed the demonstration, and have pledged to join us on the day.

The demo
As we have said elsewhere on this website, the plan for the day is for a lively, noisy demo with a high visual impact, next to the perimeter fence of the Thales arms factory in Crawley. We’re asking groups joining us on the day to bring banners, placards, flags and other visuals, as well as music. The main messages of the protest are ‘Stop Arming Israel!’ and ‘Thales profits from Israeli war crimes’, but groups are welcome to be creative about their own materials.

Assembly point
Along the perimeter fence on the western boundary of the Thales factory site, along London Road. Googlemaps reference here

Assembly time
We’re asking people to arrive by 11am. We’ve called the demo for this time because we know the factory works a half-day on Fridays, and staff begin leaving the site from 12 noon onwards. We’ve decided against demonstrating at a time when no one is working at Thales (on a Saturday, for example). And we’ll be offering lealets to factory staff as they exit the site (see below). Our plan is to finish the demonstration and leave the area by 1.30pm.

Travel to the site
The Thales factory is easy to get to. You’ll find information on travel options to Crawley and directions to the site, including walking, cycling and bus from nearby railway stations, and advice on parking nearby on the directions page of our site..

Plan for the demo
Our plan is to remain along the perimeter fence for the duration of the demo. There will be banner-making and other hands-on activities to enhance our visual impact. Everyone is welcome to join in.

Traffic along London Road is heavy and slow. Plenty of leaflets will be available explaining the background and purpose of the demo, for handing out to motorists as they inch past the factory fence. And we plan to offer leaflets to Thales staff as they exit the site at lunchtime (half-day working on Fridays).

Toilets
There are toilets in cafes within the small shopping centre opposite the demo site, across London Road.

Media/Social Media
Sussex Stop Arming Israel has posted a press release for the demo on the SSAI website, and sending it to local media in Sussex. Groups supporting the demo based in other parts of the country are encouraged to contact their local media to publicise the event. We’ll be posting details of plans for Twitter and Facebook in the next few days.

More Info: Thales killer drones

Thales’ partnership with Israeli arms company, Elbit, has been widely researched and reported on. Here’s a few articles that you might be interested in.

Electronic Intifada: Glasgow activists arrested for shutting down drone maker tied to Gaza slaughter

“Thales UK— a subsidiary of the French company, Thales, which is ranked by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute as the eleventh largest arms producer in the world — signed a $1.6 billion contract with Israel’s largest military technology firm Elbit Systems in 2011 to develop a new drone fleet for the UK military called Watchkeeper.

“Watchkeeper is based on Elbit’s Hermes 450 model, one of Israel’s most widely deployed attack drones.

“Like most weapons developed in Israel, the Hermes 450 has been tested and perfected on the people of Gaza, which allows Elbit to market its star drone as “combat-proven.”

“Outfitted to carry two medium range missiles, the Hermes 450 was used by the Israeli army during its Winter 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza to deliberately target Palestinian civilians, according to an investigation by Human Rights Watch.

“This arrangement, which treats Palestine as Israel’s proprietary weapons laboratory, has paved the way for Israel to become the world’s number one exporter of drones.”

Campaign against the Arms Trade

Thales pavilion at Farnborough International 2012“Thales is the world’s 11th largest arms producer, with military products comprising 49% of its 2012 sales”

Wikipedia: Thales Watchkeeper WK450

“The Royal Artillery has a future aspiration to weaponise Watchkeeper.”

“The Watchkeeper is built in the UK by a joint venture company, UAV Tactical Systems (U-TacS), set up by theIsraeli company Elbit Systems (51% ownership) and the Thales group. UAV Engines Ltd, who build the rotary engine in the UK, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems.”

Drone Wars: Israel and the Drone Wars

“The UK’s Watchkeeper drone, being developed and built in conjunction with Israeli company Elbit Systems, is a good example of how Israel profits from its long experience of this new way to wage war. Indeed it could be said that if you scratch any drone you will likely find Israeli technology underneath”.

Corporate Watch: Company profile of Elbit

“85% of drones used by the Israeli military are manufactured by Elbit. Elbit’s armed drones are used by the Israeli army in daily surveillance and attacks in Gaza…”

“…the Elbit website advertises that the Hermes 450 drone is the “backbone of Israel’s UAS fleet” and is combat proven.”

War on Want: Killer Drones

“In December 2013 War on Want argued in its Killer Drones report that the UK was complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people by “in effect, buying technology that has been ‘field tested’ on Palestinians.”

Thales in their own words:

“Watchkeeper can identify and pinpoint targets, and, when appropriate, control or cue military action”.

Prof Michel Chossudovsky in Global Research:

“The aerial bombings and the ongoing ground invasion of Gaza by Israeli ground forces must be analysed in a historical context. Operation “Cast Lead” is a carefully planned undertaking, which is part of a broader military-intelligence agenda first formulated by the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001”

CALL OUT – Friday 8 April 2016

Thales Watchkeeper drone.

DEMONSTRATE OUTSIDE THALES ARMS FACTORY
Manor Royal, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 9HA
Friday 8 April 2016, 11am – 1.30pm

20-minute walk from Three Bridges station
(London-Brighton mainline near Gatwick Airport)

Thales (UK) works with the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems to develop the Watchkeeper drone, modelled on Elbit’s Hermes 450 drone used extensively over Gaza. Thales is therefore a major target in the STOP ARMING ISRAEL campaign.

We are calling on campaigning groups in London and the South East to endorse, publicise and come along to this demonstration to give a clear message to Thales that:

  • they are complicit in Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people through their joint enterprise with Israeli arms company Elbit Systems
  • arms manufacturers are not welcome in our communities.

Please send your group’s endorsement to Sussex Stop Arming Israel: sussexstoparmingisrael [at] riseup.net

Why Thales?

The UK’s Watchkeeper drone has been developed under a £1 billion joint venture contract awarded by the Ministry of Defence to Thales UK and Israel’s Elbit Systems, allowing the UK military to benefit from technologies that have been ‘field tested’ on the Palestinians.

The Crawley factory is one of Thales’s largest facilities in the UK.

The Watchkeeper drone project illustrates the collaboration between the UK government and Israel, and the joint working between private arms companies from both countries.

The demo outside the Thales arms factory in Crawley on April 8th will be an important part of the campaign for a two-way arms embargo against Israel, as called for by the Palestinian BDS National Committee:

“A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue. It would form a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region and would constitute an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law.” http://bdsmovement.net/activecamps/military-embargo

We’re relaying the call-out to all affiliated networks, especially in southeast England – trade unions, faith groups, students, human rights and antiracist groups. We’re hoping for a great turnout.

These are critical times for Palestinians.There is evidence that Israel, supported by its ever-belligerent US backers, is planning another murderous attack on defenceless Gaza civilians, in tandem with its brutal attacks on Palestinian resistance in the Occupied West Bank.

Bring banners and other displays for a lively visual impact at the factory’s surrounding fence!

Stay tuned for further details and thanks for your support.

watchkeeper-201004161