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Protesters rally outside Esquimalt Lockheed Martin office against arms sales to Israel

A dozen children were playing among a crowd of mostly younger people denouncing what they say is complicity in Israel’s war effort in Gaza
Protesters demonstrate outside Lockheed Martin offices on Lockley Road in Esquimalt, Monday, demanding the U.S.-based defence contractor end military aid and weapon sales to Israel. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Protesters staged a rally billed as “babies not bombs” outside the Lockheed Martin office in Esquimalt on Monday, calling for an end to military support and arms sales to Israel.

A dozen children were seen playing among a crowd of mostly younger people denouncing what they say is complicity in Israel’s war effort in Gaza.

In July, Lockheed Martin Corp., a U.S.-based defence contractor, signed a $3-billion deal to provide 25 F-35 fighter jets to Israel.

The company has provided arms to the country for more than 40 years.

People carrying banners and flags began streaming into the office’s parking lot at 10 a.m., the crowd swelling to about 130 people within the hour.

With her 11-month-old daughter strapped to her chest, protest organizer Ayendri Riddell said that she can no longer give her children food or water without thinking of the children in Gaza. “We need to stop companies in our backyard that are profiting off the war.”

Bilal Bagha, a family doctor, said he attended Monday’s demonstration in solidarity with health-care workers in Gaza. “What we’re seeing in Gaza right now is an absolute destruction of the health-care system.”

All the hospitals in Northern Gaza are no longer functioning, and numerous other health-care facilities in Gaza have been targeted and cut off from essential resources like electricity, fuel, medication and water, he said. “Seeing that kind of devastation, particularly for children and those most vulnerable who we put the most energy into caring for, is just heartbreaking.”

Bagha noted that organizations such as Doctors Without Borders Canada and the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions are calling for an immediate ceasefire, which is rare. “I think we are all shocked that this could happen … I fear for what that means in terms of international law around health facilities.”

Due to the Remembrance Day statutory holiday, there were no workers at the Lockheed Martin office on Monday, save for a lone contractor repairing a water leak in the building.

Protesters painted the words “blood on your hands” in red on the building’s windows and daubed red handprints over the office entrance before leaving the area.

Apart from Lockheed Martin, the building at 1250 Lockley St. also contains offices for the Department of National Defence and Victoria Shipyards.

Canadian special forces members are currently in Israel for “contingency planning” and the protection of the Canadian embassy and staff in Israel, according to Nov. 1 Question Period remarks from Marie-France Lalonde, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of defence.

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