SINCE October 7, social media screens have been filled with images of gruesome violence from Israel-Palestine. Israelis killed or kidnapped in the desert. Palestinian children with limbs amputated on hospital floors.

Buildings that were once home to families in Gaza, now broken piles of rubble with the inhabitants buried underneath. Photographs and videos of endless horrors accompanying an ever-increasing death toll of names.

Israel’s war in Gaza is hard to watch. Many of us will no doubt have already turned away, scrolling quickly past images of conflict as the pain of others becomes too much to bear.

In the face of such destruction, it is easy to feel helpless. What can we do to alleviate or stop the suffering in Gaza, two-and-half thousand miles away from the comfort of our homes in Scotland?

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Many of us have called for a ceasefire and taken to the streets in the biggest anti-war protests since the Iraq War. These displays of solidarity are important. They demonstrate that many people in Scotland are opposed to Israel’s brutal bombardment of Gaza.

However, now that the four-day ceasefire is coming to an end, we need to take further action to prevent more horror in Gaza. We need Scotland to divest from the arms trade.

The UK has licensed £442 million worth of arms to Israel since 2015, and these arms are produced across the UK, including Scotland. For instance, the F-35 fighter jet used by the Israeli Air Force to drop bombs on Gaza is manufactured jointly by Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems, both of whom operate from sites across Scotland.

The laser targeting system for the F-35 is made in Edinburgh. Other arms companies whose weapons and equipment have been used by Israel in Gaza are based in Glasgow and Fife.

These private companies are subsidised by the UK and Scottish governments. In 2021, an investigation by The Ferret reported that Scottish Enterprise had given £10m in grants to arms companies.

While these multinational corporations are subsidised by us taxpayers, the profits are kept in private hands. Research published earlier this year by the think tank Common Wealth found that since 2010 UK-based arms companies “have paid their shareholders a total of £368.8 billion”.

As Professor Anna Stavrianakis, an arms trade expert at the University of Sussex has recently pointed out, this is a form of “corporate welfare” where arms companies profit and British taxpayers and innocent civilians in Gaza pay the price.

ARMS companies are also funded by investments held by Scottish universities. According to the Glasgow University Arms Divestment Coalition, the University of Glasgow has invested more than £6.8m in arms companies, including those that provide weapons to Israel.

Last week the lethal implications of these investments were made clear, as University of Glasgow alumni Dima Alhaj died alongside her six-month-old son Abood, husband Mohammed, and two brothers after their home was bombed in the south of Gaza.

Dima worked for the World Health Organisation and according to colleagues there she was “a wonderful person with a radiant smile”.

Days before her death, Dima messaged the Scottish family who hosted her during her studies here, expressing hope that her son “lives to see better days”. Instead, his life was cut tragically short.

As the alumni of our great learning institutions are killed alongside their children by the kind of weapons designed, produced, and sold by companies in Scotland, we need to divest from the arms trade.

The Scottish Government should immediately call for the UK Government to suspend all arms exports to Israel and investigate how arms designed or produced by companies based in Britain have contributed to civilian casualties in Gaza.

At the same time, Scottish Enterprise should suspend the award of all grants to arms companies which export to Israel, and all Scottish universities should divest from those same companies.

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Scottish workers at these companies should down tools, and the Scottish Government should support a just transition away from the arms industry.

The award-winning 2018 documentary Nae Pasaran, about the Scottish Rolls-Royce workers who refused to service and repair engines for General Pinochet’s Chilean air force fighter jets in the 1970s, shows that Scotland’s workers can take a stand for justice and help prevent atrocities overseas.

The lesson here is that Scotland should do what is right, and our government, our universities, and workers should say farewell to arms.

Rhys Crilley is a lecturer in international relations at the University of Glasgow.