Protesters say Australian company HTA is complicit in Gaza war crimes

March 13, 2024
A banner hanging from the gates of the HTA plant in Naarm/Melbourne.
A banner hanging from the gates of the HTA plant in Naarm/Melbourne. Photo: Jordan AK

Pro-Palestine groups, including Free Palestine Melbourne, are protesting at Heat Treatment Australia (HTA) in Naarm/Melbourne, every Monday and Friday from 10am, to demand it stop supplying the Israeli military.

HTA supplies parts for the F-35 fighter jets currently being used by Israel to bomb Gaza.

The Australian Department of Defence says HTA is “vital to the Australian supply chain for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter”.

Without HTA’s specialised heat treatment, parts made there would have to be sent to the US to be treated before being returned here to be finished. The company boasted that its involvement in the F-35 supply chain has been highly profitable, allowing it to expand.

Evidence given to federal estimates said that “as a direct result of the F-35 program, HTA has experienced significant growth leading to expansion of our facilities in Brisbane and Melbourne".

Despite Australian companies’ involvement in the supply of military equipment to Israel, foreign minister Penny Wong claimed last November that, “Australia has not supplied weapons to Israel since the start of the Hamas-Israeli conflict”.

The protests at HTA follow a recent rooftop protest at Rosebank Engineering in Naarm, which supplies parts for the F-35 combat aircrafts.

Eight people were charged after protesters scaled the roof of the Bayswater site on February 19, calling attention to the company’s role in supplying the Israeli military. 

Rosebank Engineering announced a new contract for repairing F-35 parts on October 30 last year.

Jacob Grech from Renegade Activists said: “We want to highlight that we know there are Australian-made parts in F-35s and we know that they are being used in Gaza.

“The whole world sees what’s going on in Gaza at the moment; it’s an attempted genocide.”

The Israeli Air Force confirmed in November that it was using F-35 combat jets to bomb Gaza, using them to drop 2000lb JDAM heavy munitions. This heavy air assault has now killed more than 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza, displaced 1.9 million people within the strip and resulted in mass starvation.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in January said Israel had a duty to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza, admitting that there was a potential case that Israel’s actions fall under the UN Convention on Genocide.

Campaigners say Australian companies and the government that granted the export licences, could be complicit in breaking international law in Gaza.

After the ICJ ruling, UN experts warned that arms exports to Israel could be violating international humanitarian law in Gaza, and must stop.

A Dutch court recently halted F-35 parts shipments to Israel as a direct result of the ICJ ruling, and campaigners are hoping Australia could be next.

Grech has uncovered a link between the “opaque” Australian military equipment industry and Human Rights Watch (HRW) Australia.

Rosebank is owned by parent company ASDAM (Australian Sovereign Defence and Manufacturing), alongside F-35 suppliers Marand, Levitt and TAE Aerospace.

ASDAM, Australia’s largest military supplier, is owned by shadowy company CPE Capital, co-founded by Joseph Skrzynski. Despite making huge profits from investing in arms and military suppliers, Skrzynski is on the board of HRW Australia.

HRW claims that Israel is not complying with the ICJ ruling, and has called on countries to halt arms sales to Israel.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s taken this [war on Gaza],” Grech said. “But it is heartening that so many people in Australia have now realised what’s going on and are protesting our military industry.”

[Protests are held at HTA Melbourne, 43B Lara Way, Campbellfield, every Monday and Friday from 10-12noon.]

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