Belgian pro-Palestine protesters block companies supplying arms to Israel

Belgian pro-Palestine protesters block companies supplying arms to Israel
Around 120 Palestine Action activists chained themselves onto the entrance of space and defence companies OIP Sensor Systems and Thales in Belgium.
3 min read
05 March, 2024
Protesters, holding Palestinians flags, banners and posters with photographs of Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks in Brussels, Belgium in February 2024 [Getty]

The pro-Palestine group Palestinian Action Belgium has taken on two defence companies which were said to supply weaponry to Israel

According to Belgian news outlet The Brussels Times, around 70 activists chained themselves to the entrance doors of the Belgian city of  Oudenaarde’s OIP Sensor Systems- while also occupying the roof of the company building on Monday. 

Meanwhile, 50 people had also blockaded another company Thales, located in Belgium’s Herstal, by obstructing its entrance. 

In a press statement, Palestine Action demanded "an end to the bloody complicity of governments in the production and transfer of weapons".

"It is urgent that states put an end to all production and transit of weapons to Israel, but also to all cooperation between institutions/universities and Israeli organisations complicit in the Israeli army. It is not only a moral duty, but also a legal duty, confirmed by the highest court in the world, the ICJ of The Hague," the statement read. 

The group also issued further details on the companies, including OIP being owned by its Israeli parent company Elbit Systems- which was said to offer 85 per cent of its weapons and military technology to Israel in its relentless war in the Gaza Strip. 

Palestine Action Belgium additionally claimed that while the Belgian government controls the company, it alleges that it has a significant advantage in how it is supervised. 

"Freddy Versluys, CEO of OIP, has repeatedly said that he has not obtained an export permit to Israel for 15 years. However, the Flemish Government's Annual Arms Trade Report 202211 indicates that Flanders has granted 10 permits to ship weapons to Israel, 5 of which do not specify the country of final use," the group said. 

“When you consult the articles in the list4, it is precisely the type of components that OIP produces. To our knowledge, no other company in Flanders produces these components.” 

The group added that according to the Belgian organisation the Flemish Peace Institute, the government "does not sufficiently control arms exports due to a lack of collaboration between the departments concerned."

Separately, French multinational company Thales was also said to be a long-term producer of arms that have been directly supplied to Israel. 

Palestine Action UK also targeted British based who shared links to the Israeli military. 

Campaigners led a rally at Smiths Metal's headquarters in Bedfordshire, as they protested against the supply of components for Israeli F-35 fighter jets. 

The health ministry in Gaza said on Tuesday that at least 30,631 people have been killed during the war between Israel and Palestinian militants in the territory.

A ministry statement said there were 97 deaths over the past 24 hours, while another 72,043 people have been wounded since the war broke out on 7 October.