By Mary Sullivan and Jenny King
All photographs by Cara MacNally
Instro Precision, which is in production in Sandwich, is a subsidiary of the Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, an instrument of the state of Israel used to rain terror on the civilians of Gaza who have no effective means of protecting themselves.
Much is made of the rockets fired into Israel by Hamas. In real terms, these home-made rockets are no more than fireworks that cause minimal damage to life and limb compared with the devastation caused by Israeli bombardment.
In any case, there is no moral equivalence between a colonised people exercising its internationally recognised right to resist with the means it has and a military superpower, a nuclear armed state, using advanced weaponry to murder and terrorise those people into submission.
Many of us are aware of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people during the Nakba, 73 years ago, and the refugee crisis it created. Still there is no right of return for Palestinian refugees, while Jewish people with no connection to Israel have the right to settle there.
The land and property grab continue. The attempt to evict Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Israeli settlers led to the recent Palestinian protests followed by brutal reprisals from Israeli forces. In solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank, the military wing of Hamas in Gaza used the only means it had available and fired rockets over Israel. As Israeli forces retaliated, the world looked on in horror as over 200 innocent Palestinian civilians, including women and children, were slaughtered, while Israeli casualties remained low.
The blockade imposed on Gaza by the Israeli state means that the 2.048 million Gazans, all tightly packed into an area the size of the Isle of Wight, had nowhere to escape from the bombs. Even before the latest onslaught, Save the Children noted that Gaza, with only two to four hours of electricity per day, left more than 700 schools struggling to function. The breakdown of health and emergency services put children’s lives at risk. Water-borne diseases were increasing because of power shortages. Untreated sewage was leading to environmental disaster. Children were unable to sleep, study or play, which affected their wellbeing and mental health.
Following the recent offensive and the destruction of Gazan infrastructure, one million children are currently living in appalling conditions. Save the Children says that Gaza is now an unlivable region.
So, our protest against Instro Precision/Elbit is entirely appropriate. We must do all we can to deter it from its purpose of supporting the Israeli state in its aggression against the Palestinian people.
What does Instro Precision make?
The Instro Precision arms factory, in Discovery Park, Sandwich, is owned by the weapons giant Elbit Systems, which supplies 85 per cent of Israel’s military drones. The engineers in this factory make, design and manufacture the optical components that enable drones, planes tanks and guns to fix on to their targets.
What do Instro Precision’s customers do with this kind of technological invention and who are their customers?
The kind of technology manufactured here is used to keep the Palestinian citizens, who are packed very tightly into Gaza, under constant surveillance via drones that continuously buzz and duck and dive around overhead. Palestinian children are regularly traumatised by these surveillance drones.
This factory sells armaments to its customers: Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and to other oppressive regimes, and its drones have also been used by the Myanmar junta. Elbit inventions are used to target civilians, medical facilities, schools, essential services and to attack people who are democratically demonstrating against their oppressors. These inventions have also been used to attack the media by destroying their buildings and injuring and killing journalists.
Recently, in London, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Israel to stop bombing buildings that house media offices, as well as ensuring that journalists on the ground can safely report on the conflict.
Ignacio Miguel Delgado, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative, said: “In less than a week, Israel has bombed the offices of at least 18 media outlets, and it’s difficult to reach any conclusion other than that the Israeli military wants to shut down news coverage of the suffering in Gaza.”
He continued: “Israel must stop bombing the offices of news outlets and step up efforts to ensure that local and international journalists can work safely and freely.”
On Monday June 7, Israeli fighter jets bombed and damaged the Gaza city offices of the Nawa Online Women Media Network, a news website affiliated with the women’s rights, and a youth organisation, Filastiniyat, according to a report by the Skeyes Centre for Media & Cultural Freedom.
Israeli forces did not give prior warning of the bombing, which reports say killed two civilians. Wafa Abdel-Rahman, Nawa editor-in-chief, said: “According to the testimony of the building’s security guard, who survived miraculously, no prior warning was given and the building was bombed at 6 pm.” She added that the outlet’s employees were unable to reach the remains of the office because of the severe damage inflicted from the bombing.
This happened just a week after Israel blew up a tower block, completely demolishing it, that housed at least 17 international and local media outlets, including Associated Press and Al-Jazeera — and it is the technology and inventions produced by the Instro Precision factory in Sandwich, and others owned by Elbit Systems, which make all of this death and destruction possible.
Of course, by targeting the media, the zionist Israeli government has proven that it does not want the world to know about its brutal treatment of the Palestinian people, its ongoing ethnic cleansing and its genocidal acts committed against them.
What should Instro Precision do?
There is no doubt that the engineers working at the factory at Sandwich are exceedingly highly qualified, highly skilled men and women. Their undoubted talents could be used for the good of mankind by being put to positive use in order to help people.
Credible expert analysis has shown that it is indeed possible for so-called “defence” firms to use their engineers to retool to produce specialist medical equipment and technological aids to assist sick and disabled people, and also for green energy technology, and in doing so, this would make a really positive difference to the world.
If Instro Precision itself fails to change direction, we would urge its talented, highly trained staff to do so. We would ask them to actively look for this alternative work in order to put their considerable talents towards helping people and not continuing to help to kill and maim people.
What can Discovery Park at Sandwich do?
By Discovery Park giving it a tenancy agreement and accepting Instro Precision’s tainted rent money, it is indirectly profiting from the human misery of so many injuries and deaths aided by the deadly inventions designed and manufactured there.
In 2016, Discovery Park ignored the local people’s complaints about Instro Precision’s immoral business activities. It could now put this right — by publicly announcing its intention to end Instro Precision’s tenancy agreement at the very earliest opportunity.
What can we do?
We can keep up a sustained pressure by regularly going there to protest about Instro’s immoral business activities, as we did on June 12, and regularly, collectively and peacefully making our presence felt.
We can also campaign on social media by using the hashtag #EvictInstro and #ShutElbitDown.
We can all send very many regular Tweets to @discoverypark_.
We can write to Discovery Park’s chief executive to tell him that the people of Sandwich and the whole of east Kent say: “Evict Instro!” And we can all regularly phone Discovery Park to tell it that the people of Sandwich and East Kent say: “Evict Instro.” Call 01304 614060 or write to Discovery Park, Ramsgate Road, Sandwich CT13 9FF.
We can each write to councillors at Kent County Council to tell them our concerns that Instro Precision may be making weapons here that are being used to commit war crimes and human-rights violations. A full list of councillors is available here: https://democracy.kent.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1
We can join the Palestine Solidarity Campaign here: https://www.palestinecampaign.org/
- And our Facebook group for South East Kent Palestine Solidarity Campaign https://www.facebook.com/groups/357496015590232/media.
Tell everybody that Sandwich and the whole of east Kent in solidarity says: #EVICTINSTRO, #FreeGaza and #FreePalestine.
Watch this space for further developments.
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