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The Hastings 3 with supporters, outside Hastings Magistrates Court, 3 April 2024. Photo: HOT

‘Hastings 3’ plead not guilty as calls for arms embargo on Israel grow

The three people arrested at a peaceful ‘anti genocide’ protest outside a local arms factory appeared at Hastings Magistrates Court on Wednesday (3 April). Gabriel Carlyle reports.

About forty people gathered in the rain outside Hastings Magistrates Court this morning (Wednesday 3 April) to support the ‘Hastings 3’: three local residents who were arrested for peacefully blockading the General Dynamics arms factory in St Leonards on 29 February, in protest over the companies’ complicity with Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

Outside Hastings Magistrates Court, 3 April 2024. Photo: HOT

US-owned arms manufacturer General Dynamics, which supplies the MK80 bombs being dropped on Gaza, when they were arrested and held for nearly 14 hours before being charged and released on bail.

According to the American Friends Service Committee: ‘General Dynamics supplies the Israeli military with a wide variety of weapons, including various bombs. The company’s technologies are also integrated into Israel’s main weapon systems, including fighter jets and armored combat vehicles … For years, these weapons have repeatedly been used against Palestinian civilians, resulting in numerous casualties as well as mass destruction of homes and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and water and electric systems.’

The protest on 29 February was one of series of peaceful demonstrations against local sites of the arms manufacturer, organized by the Hastings & District Palestine Solidarity Campaign (HDPSC) and attracting broad community support from Jewish groups, religious organizations, social justice and climate justice groups, parent groups and political parties.

Laurie Holden, 71, Thomas Delves, 24, and Clem McCulloch, 31, all pled not guilty to charges aggravated trespass. Their trial is scheduled to take place at 10am on Tuesday 27 August at Hastings Magistrate Court.

Growing calls for arms embargo

Today’s court appearance takes place amidst growing calls for a UK arms embargo to be imposed on Israel – a move already supported by a wide-range of NGOs, including Amnesty International, Christian Aid, Oxfam and Save the Children.

In a poll conducted last week, 68% of those surveyed said they would support a ban on arms sales to Israel. A majority of supporters from all of major political parties would support such a ban, with even 56% of Conservative voters agreeing.

A local march on General Dynamics’ site in Castleham Road (‘Hastings demand … stop the genocide’) is planned for Saturday 13 April, assembling at 12 noon at the Clarence Road entrance to Alexandra Park (TN37 6SD). Local groups supporting the protest include Hastings & District Trades Council, Women’s Voice and Extinction Rebellion Hastings & St Leonards.

Outside Hastings Magistrates Court, 3 April 2024. Photo: HOT

‘Aiding and abetting war crimes’

HDPSC Chair Katy Colley said: ‘The Hastings 3 are not guilty – General Dynamics is guilty of complicity in what the International Court of Justice has called a “plausible genocide”. We demand our government stops arming Israel and we oppose the war machine in the heart of our own community responsible for the deaths of over 32,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and the starvation of a million people.’

Pensioner Laurie Holden, a retired train driver and member of ASLEF, added:

‘The people in Gaza are going through hell right now and the UK government is directly complicit in this. This weekend we found out through Alicia Kearns, the Conservative Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, that the government received advice from its own lawyers that Israel is in breach of international humanitarian law.

‘In continuing to arm Israel, this country is aiding and abetting war crimes, playing an active role in the destruction, starvation and massacres in Gaza.

‘Selling arms to Israel is illegal – it has been made abundantly clear by UN experts – and that is why countries like Spain, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Japan have already suspended arms sales there. General Dynamics is profiting from Israeli war crimes and genocide.’

A mass lobby of Parliament, to demand an arms embargo on Israel, is due to take place on Wednesday 24 April. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has also created a webtool to enable people to contact their MPs by email:

The Green Party and the Liberal Democrats have both called for an arms embargo to be imposed on Israel. Labour and the Tories continue to oppose a ban.

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Posted 17:22 Wednesday, Apr 3, 2024 In: Campaigns

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