Welsh government accused of complicity in Israel’s Gaza genocide

  • Post last modified:March 19, 2024
  • Reading time:8 mins read

Ceredigion Palestine Solidarity Campaign organised two static protests, at two simultaneous locations, on Monday 18 March. It was over the Labour-led Welsh government’s complicity in Israel‘s ongoing genocide in Gaza. The details of just how the Labour Party administration is involved are both murky and shocking.

Welsh government has ‘blood on its hands’

The protest, supported by CND Cymru, called attention to the Welsh Government’s enablement of suppliers and developers of Unmanned Weapons Systems (UAS) to the Israeli military for use in both the genocide in Gaza and the illegally occupied Palestinian territories.

People demonstrated at two locations around West Wales Airport – one of the centres of the arms industry in North Wales:

At times, people blocked the road into ParcAberporth technology park:

Welsh government Israel

Mock-up coffins were used to visualise the Welsh government’s support for Israel’s war machine:

When you realise just why protesters were angry with the Welsh government – you won’t be surprised.

The Welsh government: up to its neck in genocide

For example, weapons development company QinetiQ, based at MOD Aberporth, develops UAVs (drones) for export to the Israeli military for use in the genocide in Gaza, and the decades long illegal occupation of Palestine and the brutal oppression of Palestinians.

Between 2008 and 2021 QinetiQ received eight export licenses for arms to Israel. QinetiQ’s UAVs are tested at West Wales Airport. QinetiQ played a key investment role in the Welsh Assembly Government’s Parc Aberporth/West Wales Airport development.

Then, Thales UK fly and maintain their Watchkeeper drones for the MOD from West Wales Airport. Thales is the UK branch of Israeli arms company Elbit Systems Ltd (via a subsidiary company U-TacS) and is also in active partnership with Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Elbit and IAI both supply weapons directly to the Israeli military for use in Gaza and in Occupied Palestine. Thales’ Watchkeeper drone, developed under the joint venture contract awarded by the MOD to Thales UK and Israel’s Elbit Systems, is tested and evaluated at West Wales Airport.

Elbit’s Hermes 900 was also tested at West Wales Airport and was deployed in Gaza by the IDF in 2014. Israeli military and industry sources openly attribute the success of these Israeli weapon exports to being ‘combat proven’ in operations against Palestinians.

State funding for a private airport?

West Wales Airport advertises itself as a ‘privately owned and entirely independent’, however from what Ceredigion PSC has discovered its claim of independence is a little sketchy.

West Wales Airport has been dependent for its development on Welsh Government funding/loans, some funds of which still appear to be current in accounts in 2023. The Welsh Government has also secured funding/loans for West Wales Airport against its freehold title deeds, and land at West Wales Airport was sold, somewhat curiously, by the Welsh Assembly Government to the company in 2009 for the sum of £30,000.

Additionally, Thales UK claims that since 2004 they have invested £12million into West Wales Airport. As of 12 March 2024, Thales UK/MOD have extended their contract with West Wales Airport. The cost of this extension is valued at £6.5 million.

Welsh government’s shocking complicity

Dinah Mulholland, chair of Ceredigion Palestine Solidarity Campaign commented:

Welsh Government’s complicity can be currently and historically identified via its longstanding relationships with UAS weapons companies QinetiQ and ThalesUK/Elbit Systems Ltd, at West Wales Airport/Parc Aberporth. There is strong evidence of a mutual dependency between Welsh Government, Parc Aberporth, West Wales Airport, Thales UK and QinetiQ that is enabling Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

In directly enabling QinetiQ and ThalesUK’s operations from West Wales Airport/Parc, Welsh Government is up to its elbows in Palestinian blood.

The Senedd has rightly called for a ceasefire in Gaza, but they must also call Welsh Government to account and urgently act to prevent the defence industry in Wales supplying Israel with the weapons and military technology used in its genocidal assault on Palestinians.

Whilst defence is not a devolved power to Wales, the defence industry is. The Welsh Assembly Government was described in 2011 as being:

the driving force behind setting up the Wales UAS environment… [and] Parc Aberporth as a dedicated centre for UAS.

QinetiQ had significant and meaningful input into that development. Since devolution, Welsh Government has continued to invest significant public funds directly into West Wales Airport/Parc Aberporth – and therefore, directly into Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

Featured image via the ERS and additional images via Ceredigion Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Source link