Australia challenged on ‘moral failure’ of weapons trade with Israel

Melbourne, Australia – Israel’s continued assault on Gaza has highlighted a hidden yet crucial component of the world’s weapons manufacturing industry – suburban Australia.

Tucked away in Melbourne’s industrial north, Heat Treatment Australia (HTA) is an Australian company that plays a vital role in the production of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters; the same model that Israel is using to bomb Gaza.

Weekly protests of about 200 people have been taking place for months outside the nondescript factory, where heat treatment is applied to strengthen components for the fighter jet a product of US military giant Lockheed Martin.

While protesters have sometimes brought production to a halt with their pickets, they remain concerned about what’s going on inside factories like HTA.

“We decided to hold the community picket to disrupt workers, and we were successful in stopping work for the day,” Nathalie Farah, protest organiser with local group Hume for Palestine, told Al Jazeera. “We consider this to be a win.”

“Australia is absolutely complicit in the genocide that is happening,” said 26-year-old Farah, who is of Syrian and Palestinian origin. “Which is contrary to what the government might have us believe.”

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched its war in Gaza six months ago after Hamas killed more than 1,000 people in a surprise attack on Israel. The war, being investigated as a genocide by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), has left hundreds of thousands on the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations.

HTA – which did not respond to Al Jazeera for comment – is just one of an increasing number of companies in Australia engaged in the weapons manufacturing industry.

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