PROTESTERS across the UK have targeted arms factories and Government offices with calls for arms exports to Israel to immediately end.

In Glasgow, demonstrators estimated that more than 100 people had turned up to blockade all five entrances to the BAE Systems site in Govan on Wednesday morning – as well as the entrance to an adjacent McLaughlin and Harvey site due to an alleged access route between the two.

Across the UK, three arrests were made as up to 900 other protesters demonstrated outside sites owned by BAE – the UK’s largest weapons firm – as well as the London offices of the UK Government’s Department for Business and Trade.

Speaking from the Govan protest, activist Justine Rosa told The National: “BAE is involved in a couple of projects that are part of the Israeli genocide on Palestinians. They make parts for F-35 fighter jets, not on this site but in many other sites in the UK, and they’re also involved in fitting Israeli defence armour into boats at this site."

She added: "They're the biggest arms company in the UK, we want to hit their profits."

In February, a court in the Netherlands ruled arms exports to Israel had to end, saying it was “undeniable that there is a clear risk the exported F-35 parts are used in serious violations of international humanitarian law”.

However, the UK has continued to export weapons and parts to Israel insisting its own legal advice –which it will not publish – does not come to the same conclusion.

READ MORE: David Cameron says UK won't end arms exports to Israel despite 'grave concerns'

In April, court documents revealed that Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch had approved weapons exports to Israel just days after its military killed seven aid workers, three of whom were British.

Workers in Palestine – an umbrella organisation representing Palestinian trade unions across areas including law, medicine, teaching, and engineering – called for International Workers’ Day on May 1 to be a day of protest.

Rosa added: “Historically it’s a day that workers have shown their power and their solidarity … and we think it’s a really appropriate day to bring the fight to BAE Systems both in Scotland and also nationally in the UK.”

One protester, Jay, told The National he had not been involved in such a protest before, but after joining rallies such as those held in central Glasgow on the Buchanan Street steps, “it became more and more obvious that direct action was needed”.

The National:

Another, named Jamie, said they had taken part in such blockades in the past and their success meant they were encouraged to join in more.

“The reason we do these actions is that we know they're impactful,” Jamie said.

“The way this manufacturing works is that it relies on a really steady stream of parts going through the process, so even a couple of hours delay or disruption has a knock-on impact on the manufacturing and on the profits that BAE are making off this genocide.”

The protest in Govan was peaceful when The National was present and dozens of police were in attendance across the site.

All three arrests linked to the UK-wide demonstrations happened in London, outside Government buildings.

A Metropolitan Police statement said: “We are policing a protest in Admiralty Place and Horse Guards Parade. Officers have made three arrests after protesters blocked access to a building. Protesters must stay within the law.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 4.55am on Wednesday, 1 May 2024, police were called to a report of a demonstration outside the grounds of a business premises on Govan Road, Govan, Glasgow. Officers remain at the scene.”

A BAE Systems spokesperson said: “The ongoing violence in the Middle East is having a devastating impact on civilians in the region and we hope the parties involved find a way to end the violence as soon as possible.

“We respect everyone’s right to protest peacefully. We operate under the tightest regulation and comply fully with all applicable defence export controls, which are subject to ongoing assessment.”