The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (SCND) has launched a campaign to pressure Leonardo UK, a defence company based in Edinburgh, to stop providing arms and equipment to Israel. The campaign comes amid the ongoing violence and human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Leonardo UK’s role in arming Israel
Leonardo UK is a subsidiary of Leonardo S.p.A., an Italian multinational company that specialises in aerospace, defence and security. Leonardo UK has several sites across Scotland, including in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness. The company employs over 2,000 people in Scotland and contributes to the local economy.
However, Leonardo UK also has a history of supplying arms and equipment to Israel, a country that has been accused of war crimes and violations of international law by various human rights organisations. According to the SCND, Leonardo UK has provided Israel with:
- Radar systems for fighter jets that have been used to bomb Gaza and Lebanon
- Components for drones that have been used for surveillance and targeted killings in Gaza and the West Bank
- Optical and infrared sensors for tanks and armoured vehicles that have been used to demolish Palestinian homes and farms
- Training and support services for the Israeli military and security forces
The SCND claims that Leonardo UK is complicit in Israel’s oppression and occupation of the Palestinian people, and that its products have caused death, injury and suffering to countless civilians.
The campaign to stop Leonardo UK from arming Israel
The SCND has launched a campaign to stop Leonardo UK from arming Israel, and to urge the Scottish government and the UK government to end their support for the company. The campaign aims to:
- Raise awareness of Leonardo UK’s involvement in Israel’s military and security apparatus
- Mobilise public opinion and pressure against Leonardo UK and its products
- Support the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that calls for economic, academic and cultural boycotts of Israel until it complies with international law and respects the rights of the Palestinian people
- Advocate for a conversion of Leonardo UK’s facilities and workforce to produce socially useful and environmentally friendly products and services
The campaign has organised several actions and events, such as:
- Protests and vigils outside Leonardo UK’s offices and factories
- Petitions and letters to Leonardo UK’s management, shareholders and customers
- Lobbying and meetings with local and national politicians and officials
- Educational and cultural activities to inform and engage the public and the media
The campaign has also received support and endorsement from various civil society groups, trade unions, faith communities and celebrities in Scotland and beyond.
The response of Leonardo UK and the governments
Leonardo UK has not responded directly to the campaign or its demands, but has issued a general statement on its website, stating that:
- It operates in accordance with the UK government’s export control regulations and international treaties
- It respects human rights and the rule of law in all its activities and markets
- It contributes to the defence and security of the UK and its allies, as well as to the social and economic development of Scotland and the UK
The Scottish government and the UK government have also not addressed the campaign or its demands, but have expressed their support for Leonardo UK and its role in the defence and security sector. They have also reiterated their commitment to a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and their condemnation of violence and extremism from all sides.