Anti-war protesters composed of workers and union members blockaded the entrance to a Canadian factory that produces engines for Israel’s drones on Tuesday.
The protestors blocked the entrance of the Pratt & Whitney plant in Mississauga, near Toronto and held signs with messages such as “Canada: Stop Arming Israel” and “Workers Against War.”
“No cars are coming in!” One of the protest’s organizers, a group called World BEYOND War, said on Twitter. “P&W supplies engines for Israel’s war planes and drones. We say: #CanadaStopArmingIsrael #CeaseFireNOW #FreePalestine!”
Other Canadian groups involved in the protest included Labour for Palestine and Labour Against the Arms Trade. The latter group was initially set up to protest a deal between Canadian manufacturer GLDS and Saudi Arabia to provide light-armored vehicles.
World BEYOND War is an activist organization that seeks to abolish war itself. According to its press release, it organized “more than 200 workers and union members from across the Greater Toronto Area” to block the entrance of the Pratt & Whitney plant.
Pratt & Whitney is a subsidiary of RTX (formerly Raytheon) that is known, primarily, as a manufacturer of jet engines. Its connections to both the U.S. and Israel are deep. For example, Israel’s own Heron TP drone—which the country has deployed continuously in Gaza for over 15 years, including during the latest conflict—uses a Pratt & Whitney engine.
Israel has conducted an extensive bombing campaign against Gaza following an October 7 attack by Hamas that killed 1,200 people. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 17,000 Palestenians have died in the subsequent bombing.
The company also manufactures engines for U.S. warplanes and signed a 15 year contract with the Israeli Ministry of Defense in 2015 to supply the country with replacement engines for its F-15s and F-16s. Last year, it made headlines in Israel after it took over two competitor’s factories in Nahariya and Tefen with the plans of shutting them down and firing 900 employees.
“As a parent, how can I ignore that companies like Pratt and Whitney right here in my city are shamelessly supporting and profiting from the mass murder of Palestinian children?” Rachel Small, an organizer at World BEYOND War, said in a press release about the protest. “If the Canadian government won’t stop the flow of weapons to Israel and stop companies like Pratt & Whitney Canada from exporting weapons used in Israeli war crimes, then those of us with a moral conscience are forced to take whatever actions we can to stop a genocide.”
“Labour unions across Canada have called for a ceasefire and many have called for an arms embargo on Israel. As trade unionists, we are putting these calls into action and encouraging union members across the country to do the same. We have the power to stop the flow of weapons to the Israeli war machine,” said Simon Black of Labour Against the Arms Trade.
According to the press release, World BEYOND War demanded that Canada’s Parliament “call for an immediate ceasefire; impose an arms embargo on Israel; and end its support for Pratt & Whitney and other arms companies” contributing to Israel’s siege on Gaza.
Pratt & Whitney did not immediately return Motherboard’s request for comment. Small told Motherboard that World BEYOND War hadn’t heard from the company either.
“We had substantial conversations with dozens of workers at the plant today while they were attempting to drive in and our pickets blocked them from doing so,” she said. “Many actually said they agreed with us and supported what we were doing. One worker shared that as a member of the Tamil community his family had also experienced genocide and that what we were doing was vital.”
In press releases, the defense contractor boasted that it had a relationship with Israel since 1947. Pratt & Whitney engines powered DC-3 Dakotas, an iconic weapon of the Israeli arsenal. A converted passenger plane, Israel has used Dakota (and Pratt & Whitney engines) in every war it has ever fought. In the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, a Dakota bombed the Syrian capital of Damascus.
“The Israeli Air Force and Israeli Ministry of Defense have enjoyed a decades-long relationship with Pratt & Whitney, over which time they have earned our confidence and trust,” Aharon Marmarosh, a former Israeli government official, said of the company in 2015. “Because of Pratt & Whitney’s expertise and track record of high-performance on our prior material management program, we felt confident in working with them on a full 15-year FMP program.”