By Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2899

Stop British arms sales to hit Israeli killing machine

Official figures show only a portion of the support for Israel
Issue 2899
Determined-looking protesters against arms to Israel with banner Teledyne, stop arming Israel

Protesting against arms sales to Israel at Teledyne near Bradford last week (Picture: Judy Cox)

The engine for the Israeli drone that murdered aid workers last week was made in the UAV factory in the West Midlands.

It’s just one example of how British firms supply arms and components that Israel uses to massacre Palestinians.

Tucked away on an industrial estate in Shipley near Bradford, Teledyne Defence and Space manufactures key technology used in Israeli missiles and drones.

It has been the scene of regular protests, direct action and blockades by pro-Palestinian activists, including Palestine Action.

The factory mainly produces missile filters and drone components. Missile filters help guide missiles to their targets, whether that’s a Palestinian home or a hospital.

One of the missiles that US-owned Teledyne Defence and Space says it creates parts for is the AGM-114R9X Hellfire missile.

Israel used a Hellfire missile last November to blast the now-destroyed al-Shifa hospital.

This missile works by sucking in oxygen from the atmosphere to create a scorching hot and powerful blast. 

The blast from a Hellfire missile is designed to rip people’s internal organs apart.

The British government granted the owners of the Shipley site at least 86 arms licences between 2009 and 2014 for the export of weapons to Israel.

In 2014, the company continued to sell arms to Israel, but its sales and licensing were handled by parent company Teledyne UK.

The state tries to conceal and minimise just how important manufacturers operating on British soil are to creating Israeli arms.

The US supplies 68 percent of Israel’s arms imports and Germany 24 percent. Britain officially provides only a small percentage.

Since 2015, the British government has licensed £487 million worth of weapons to Israel. But that doesn’t include “open licences”.

Some 15 percent of the value of every US-made F-35 combat aircraft, which Israel uses to bomb Gaza, is made in Britain.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade estimates that the work on the 36 F-35s exported to Israel up to 2023 has been worth at least £368 million to the British arms industry.

BAE Systems makes the rear fuselage of all F-35s at Samlesbury Aerodrome in Lancashire and also tests the aircraft’s durability at a site in east Yorkshire.

The aircraft company Martin Baker makes the aircraft’s ejector seat in Denham, Buckinghamshire.

Dunlop Aircraft Tyres makes the plane’s tyres in Birmingham.

Leonardo makes the laser targeting system for the F-35 in Edinburgh.

Arms firm Raytheon makes the Paveway II guided missile for Israel in the United States. The Workers in Palestine group says that Raytheon also makes the Paveway IV in Glenrothes near Edinburgh.

While there are no export licences for the Paveway IV to Israel from Britain, they are assembled in the US so the supply chain is unclear.

In November 2023 the Department for Business and Trade released a list of 79 companies registered on a British government open licence for exports linked to the F-35.

The demand to end permanently all arms sales to Israel now can be both a real blow to the Israeli war machine and a global symbol of support for the Palestinians.

Drones used for murder and to spy on the resistance 

Both Teledyne Defence and Space and Elbit Systems — which have sites across Britain make parts for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) drones.

Israel is one of the biggest users of UAVs in the world, and Elbit Systems is one of its biggest suppliers.

Elbit System has received millions of pounds from the Israeli ministry of defence for the Hermes 450 drone.

The company even describes on its website that it is the “backbone” of the Israeli military’s drone fleet.

This support included a £23 million payout in 2007—after Hamas won elections in Gaza.

The Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 were both widely used during Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge”—which killed over 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza.

Around 37 percent of these murders were attributed to drone attacks.

Elbit also makes the Skylark drone, which the Israeli army uses to spy on the resistance. In September 2023, Elbit announced it would provide the Israeli infantry with upgraded Skylark tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). It is the only company that makes these types of drones.

Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah said in February that it had “taken control of an Israeli Skylark drone”, showing that Israel is using the Elbit-manufactured drones to spy on the resistance.

Elbit is not only a funder of Israel’s war on the Palestinian people, it is also a principle contractor of the US military and the US customs and border protection.

The company provides tower surveillance so that the US state can more easily stop desperate migrants from crossing its borders.

The Elbit site in Britain most connected to items used by the Israeli military is run by its subsidiary Instro Precision Ltd in Sandwich, Kent.

Instro Precision Ltd make targeting equipment for troops and vehicles and hold export licences to Israel. This equipment is likely used in Israel’s ground operations.

Palantir: supplying the NHS and Israel

Pro-Palestine health workers blockaded NHS headquarters in south London last week.

They were demanding that the NHS cancels its contract with US-based intelligence company Palantir. It supplies technology, including artificial intelligence, to Israel’s military.

Palantir’s website says it helps keep Israel “armed and ahead”.

Health Workers for a Free Palestine wrote on its Instagram account, “NHS England must cancel its contract with genocide enabler Palantir. Our health services must be run in the interests of the people, not corporate giants and colonial regimes.”

Last November the NHS signed a contract worth £330 million, with Palantir for software to manage patient data.

That means the company provides Israel with “protective policing” technology, which helps to track and predict the movements of Palestinians.

In 2017 Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Palantir provided predictive systems for Israeli security organisations.

The paper then linked the arrests of Palestinians based on their social media activity back to technology provided by Palantir and others.

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