Freedom News

Two day blockade of Bristol arms fair over genocide links

On 5th and 6th March 2024, campaigners blockaded access to the Bristol arms fair. The Future Indirect Fires and Joint Military Training & Simulation Stream conferences were taking place at the Ashton Gate stadium in Bristol. Companies that attended the conference, including Elbit Systems and BAE Systems, are complicit in the genocide Israel is perpetrating against Palestinian people in Gaza. 

One of the protesters, Patrick Walker from Newport, South Wales, said:

“It’s grotesque that companies like Elbit Systems and BAE see the extermination of a people as a business opportunity. The UK has to stop arming Israel today or be complicit in genocide”.

Israeli arms company Elbit Systems plays a central role in arming the occupation and battle testing its weapons and technologies on Palestinians. 15% of the value of every US-made F-35 combat aircraft is made in the UK, with BAE Systems being the most important of at least 79 companies involved in the programme. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) conservatively estimates that the work on the 36 F-35s exported to Israel up to 2022 is worth at least £336m to the UK arms industry.

The protest, called by Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Bristol Stop the War and supported by many different organisations, also called on people to complain to Ashton Gate stadium, a sporting and cultural venue in Bristol. The protest aimed “to make it clear that arms manufacturers are not welcome in our city and that we stand against Elbit and BAE and with Palestinian people.” There are reports that someone got in and lobbed personal alarms to very high places.

Since 2015, the UK has licenced over £487m worth of arms to Israel in single issue licenses. However, this does not include open licenses where companies can export unlimited amounts of specified equipment without further reporting requirements. These figures do not include licenses issued since 7th October due to a lag in reporting arms export data.

Emily Apple, CAAT’s Media Coordinator, said:

“This week, people showed clearly that they will not stand by and let arms dealers meet in Bristol, and they will not be complicit in genocide. BAE Systems recently announced record profits. Genocide is good business for these merchants of death. This government has repeatedly refused to halt arms sales to Israel despite overwhelming evidence of war crimes amounting to a genocide. But while our government refuses to act, people are showing, on a daily basis, that we can and will take action against this abhorrent trade.”

 ​Image: Campaign against the Arms Trade

Discover more from Freedom News

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading