Six police officers injured in pro-Palestine protest outside Scottish defence factory

Demonstrators claim centre produces parts for Israeli drones

Police officers hold back pro-Palestine campaigners during a protest outside the Thales factory in Govan, Glasgow. PA
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Six police officers were injured during a pro-Palestinian demonstration outside a Scottish defence factory.

Four people were arrested after about 50 protesters blocked entrances to Thales's Govan site in Glasgow on Wednesday to call for a halt to Israel's operation in Gaza.

Police said that three men aged 18, 28 and 29, and a 21-year-old woman were arrested and charged during the demonstration, at a factory that produces parts for Israeli drones.

Six officers were injured, including one who was bitten on the arm.

Two officers attended the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, one of whom was discharged after treatment while the other remains there for further assessment, police said.

The demonstration in Glasgow took place in response to a call from Palestinian civil society for workers to disrupt the flow of arms to Israel.

Protesters claim Thales is directly involved in producing the Watchkeeper drone and that parts manufactured in Glasgow have been sold to the Israeli army.

It came as Palestinians marked Nakba Day, which remembers May 15, 1948, when some 750,000 of them were displaced from their homes as Israel was created.

Chief Inspector Derrick Johnston said: “When policing any protest our priorities are to ensure the safety of protesters, the public and police officers involved as well as preventing criminal behaviour or disorder and de-escalating tensions.

“We are committed to protecting the rights of people who wish to protest, however when this is not done peacefully, officers are required to maintain public order and will exercise their powers of arrest if necessary”.

Officers were called to the scene after the demonstration began at about 5am on Wednesday.

The four people charged will all be released on an undertaking to appear in court at a later date, police said.

Demonstrators said they were taking action to create their own arms embargo.

One of those protesting was Jamie, 32, who works at a Scottish university. He said: “Scotland is a huge part of the UK's bloody links to Israel.

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“Our leaders in Holyrood and Westminster aren't taking action, in fact they are actively contributing to these horrors.

“That's why we are doing the embargo ourselves, bringing Scottish solidarity to the people of Palestine who have suffered uncountable horrors and humiliation.”

Another protester, Daniel, 47, a care worker, said: “The Israeli government knows there is no safe place in Gaza, even as they tell people to move again. My conscience demands that I do whatever it takes to stop the chain of killing that starts here in my home town.”

A Thales representative said: “Thales is extremely proud of its role in helping to protect the UK and keep our armed forces safe.

“Regarding exports, Thales adheres to the UK government's industry control system for overseas sales, one of the most rigorous and transparent of its kind in the world.

“While those outside our site in Glasgow have the right to protest peacefully, we will work with authorities to prosecute anyone who threatens our employees, our property or our important work for the UK armed forces.”

Angela Constance, cabinet secretary for justice and home affairs, said: “The Scottish government is committed to upholding people's rights to peaceful, public assembly and freedom of expression.

“These important rights should never be used to justify any form of hateful, violent, intimidating or otherwise criminal behaviour.

“We are clear that there is no place for criminality or hate crime on our streets, and fully support Police Scotland to take appropriate and proportionate action in response to such behaviour.”

The UK government has been contacted for comment.

Updated: May 16, 2024, 8:23 AM