Welfare not warfare: Drones off our doorstep

dsc05329__26221890622_oJoin us on 19th December to protest Thales’ collaboration with Israel arms company, Elbit.
12 noon – 2.00pm at Thales factory, London Road, Crawley

Get in touch if you want to come on the minibus fro Brighton.

Bring music, banners, costumes and yourselves!

Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms company, has four factory sites in the UK. This means that Israel’s largest arms company is manufacturing weaponry on our doorstep, with the full and active connivance of the UK government.

In addition, the French arms company Thales – which collaborates with Elbit in making drones – has several factories in England and Scotland, including one in Crawley in West Sussex.

The Elbit factories in Greater Manchester, the Midlands and Kent have been the focus of numerous protests over the past two years. And the Thales factory in Crawley has been the focus of several protests over the past eight months.

On Monday December 19th there will be the first UK-wide co-ordinated protest at Elbit factories and at several Thales factories. We will be sending a clear message to Elbit, Thales and the UK government that we do not accept the UK’s endorsement of the Israeli arms industry. We do not accept the way Elbit and Thales profit from Israel’s war crimes. We’re calling on the UK government to impose a two-way arms embargo of Israel until Israel fulfills its responsibilities under international law.

More information about the Thales protest will be sent out soon. In the meantime, please note the date. We look forward to seeing you in Crawley on December 19th!

Sussex Stop Arming Israel


Photos from the Thales demo 8th April

Thanks to everyone for making today’s demo such a great success. A magnificent turnout, sending a strong message to Thales that they must end their profiteering from israeli war crimes.

The protest actually started the previous night (Thursday April 7th), with a group of human rights activists demonstrating at the main gate of the Thales site in Crawley, and projecting images and slogans onto the Thales buildings. You can learn more about their protest here.

The main demonstration on the Friday attracted more than 100 activists from across the southeast of England, with representing many of the groups that had endorsed the protest during the planning phase. Thanks to you all from Sussex Stop Arming Israel!

The demo was a lively noisy event, with 1000 leaflets distributed to passersby, passing motorists, and shoppers at the retail park opposite. There was a lot of interest and support from the good people of Crawley, most of whom had no idea of Thales’s links with israeli apartheid and israeli war crimes.Thanks to all the motorists that hooted their support!

Many of us worked on collective hands-on banner-making, resulting in our magnificent THALES PROFITS FROM ISRAELI WAR CRIMES banner that you can see in the photos below.

The group was joined by about a dozen cyclists from The Big Ride who had cycled down to Crawley from Redhill in Surrey, arriving on the site with loud chants of ‘Free Free Palestine!’. Thanks and well done!

The demo was picked up by the local press, including Crawley News and the Crawley Observer. And Ruptly TV have uploaded a short video of the demo.

More photos will be uploaded to this site over the next few days.

Stop Arming Israel! Stop Thales Profiting from Israeli War Crimes!


crawley 3

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


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).

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.