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Police Scotland disrupt peaceful Palestine solidarity protest with ‘brutal and idiotic behaviour’ tactics

POLICE SCOTLAND stand accused of “brutal and idiotic” tactics as a peaceful display of Palestinian solidarity descended into chaos outside the Thales factory in Govan.

On the day that countless people across the world showed their solidarity with the people of Palestine suffering from the ongoing Israeli onslaught for Nakba, workers and local activists gathered outside the Glasgow plant.

Police charged protesters, throwing them to the ground and against walls as officers cleared them from the factory entrance.

The site has seen numerous protests over the years over the company’s involvement in producing drones — alongside notorious Israeli arms firm Elbit —  used in the suppression of the people of Palestine. These have grown after the latest Israeli attacks on Gaza.

While blockades of the factory and the neighbouring BAE Systems site in recent months have gone peacefully, today marked a dramatic change in police tactics as more more than 60 officers, numerous vehicles and a helicopter were brought to the site.

Matters escalated further when one activist was selected by senior officers from the crowd for arrest. Police officers dragged him into a van, with a later statement saying the arrest was for having bitten an officer. Police say several officers were hurt in the fracas.

Protesters attempted to stop the van and police once again were seen to drag, kick, and punch protesters, while attempting to intimidate members of the press.

One protester, who asked not to be named, told the Morning Star: “We had a peaceful demonstration, but there were nearly as many police here as us, and they came here for a fight.

“It was brutal and idiotic behaviour from the police, someone could have been killed.

“They’re supposed to protect and serve?

“Well we know who they were serving today and it wasn’t the people.”

Mina, a retired nurse, told the Star: “I became involved in the Palestine movement through seeing a poster, seeing a banner, with the names of 270 doctors who’ve been murdered by the IDF” (Israeli Defence Forces).

“I’m appalled at what’s happening in Gaza. This is why we’re here.”

Shocked at the police presence and actions, Mina added: “What are they doing here?

“We are here telling a factory that they’re producing parts that are killing Palestinians.

“We are not here to shame factory workers, but we’re here to ask them to get their employers to behave and stop selling to Israel.”

Police Scotland were asked to comment.

Palestine Action activists hit several targets today on the anniversary of the Nakba, which saw 750,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes 76 years ago.

In Shenstone, activists blocked the entrance to a UAV Engines factory, which provides engines for drones which are used for bombing and surveillance in Gaza. 

The activists used vehicles and lock-on boxes to prevent shipments and workers from entering the premises. 

UAV Engines is owned by Israel’s largest weapons firm, Elbit Systems, which provides 85 per cent of Israel’s military drone fleet.

Activists also climbed on top of a Teledyne factory in Shipley and began dismantling the roof.

The firm manufactures components for Israel’s missiles and fighter jets.

Activists say the action halted the production of key components for missile systems that were to be exported to Israel. 

In Birmingham, the fountains in Victoria and Chamberlain Squares ran red, symbolising 76 years of bloodshed in another action orchestrated by the group.

A Palestine Action spokesperson said the “actions of Israel today were set in motion by the Nakba, so too was Britain’s complicity.

“The zionist militias which perpetrated the catastrophe were trained by British soldiers, and today we see history repeat when Britain allows the companies we have targeted today to continue with their business backing brutality whilst Israel butchers Palestinians en masse.” 

At Cambridge University, an encampment set up outside King’s College has now spread to the lawn outside the Senate House, where graduation ceremonies are due to take place this weekend. 

A sign that previously said “Please keep off the grass” now reads “Please keep off Palestine.”

A spokesperson for the encampment said that the escalation was a “direct response to the university’s lack of formal communication and inability to meet our negotiatiors’ demands.”

Among the preconditions was setting up a meeting in a public hall, and ensuring amnesty for those who enter negotiations.

Professor Bhaskar Vira, pro-vice-chancellor for education, said the university remains “ready for constructive engagement” but that “it is impossible to have a conversation with an anonymous group.”

The camp spokesperson said: “If the pro-vice-chancellor is serious about meeting us, sitting at the table, discussing negotiations and the demands that we have, then he would have no issue providing amnesty to the negotiators.”

The students are demanding that the university disclose its ties to firms complicit in Israel’s war crimes and to commit to divesting from them.

They obtained FOI requests showing that King’s, Christ’s, and Trinity colleges alone invest £17 million in arms companies such as Elbit Systems and Lockheed Martin, as well as Caterpillar which supplies Israel with bulldozers.

They say the university has a £46m contract with the Ministry of Defence, and that the Institute for Manufacturing partners with companies that facilitate the manufacture of weapons and fighter jets. 

Student protest camps have spread across Britain and there are now 25 encampments, including in Manchester, Aberdeen, Liverpool, Birmingham and Newcastle.

Today, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War Coalition organised a day of collective workplace action on the Nakba anniversary.

A Stop the War Coalition spokesperson said: “The push to take the struggle for justice for Palestine into workplaces has seen factory gate blockades, workplace walkouts and lunchtime protests. 

“Many trade unionists have joined campus encampments in solidarity with students calling for Britain and the US to stop arming Israel and on their universities to divest from arms companies.”

The 14th national march for Palestine is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of protesters to London on Saturday.


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