General Dynamics is a U.S. defense conglomerate based in Virginia. The company was ranked by SIPRI as 5th largest arms-producing and military service company in the world.
General Dynamics has been providing the Israeli military with weapons systems and munitions, mostly via the Department of Defense Foreign Military Sales program. They include artillery shells, MK-82 1000-lb and MK-84 2000-lb bombs as part of the F-16 JDAM systems, as well as gun systems for F-16 jets. The company also manufactures (with Boeing) radar arrays for the F-15 fighter jet and gun systems for the new F-35 fighter jet.
The company has supplied Israel with armor and parts for Bradley Fighting Vehicles and, since 2011, has been contracted to manufacture Israel’s newest Namer armored personnel carriers for the military.
F-16 jets and other weaponry have been used repeatedly in Israeli attacks on densely populated civilian areas, resulting in thousands of civilian casualties in Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza. The human rights community, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’tselem, and United Nations commissions have ruled these attacks to be human rights violations, collective punishment, and at times war crimes.
In 2009, General Dynamics formed a joint venture with Elbit Systems to sell versions of the Israeli company’s UAV drones Hermes and Skylark to the Department of Homeland Security and to military clients in the U.S.
According to the UN’s Fact-Finding Mission to the Gaza Conflict, the Israeli attack on Gaza in Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9 targeted civilians and was a violation of international human rights and humanitarian laws as well as possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. There were 1394 Palestinian men and women killed in the attack, of whom 345 were minors. F-16 jets were used in the aerial strikes, as were General Dynamics munitions and systems.
During Operation Protective Edge in 2014 the Israeli military targeted civilian homes among other targets, with 1-000 lb MK-82 and 2-000 lb MK-84 bombs, as well as F-16s. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 2192 Palestinians were killed during the 50 days of Protective Edge, including numerous whole families. More than 20,000 housing units were destroyed, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless.
In its report on Operaton Protective Edge, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHCR) stated in regard to the use of the MK-82 and MK-84, "Attacks, which used this type of weapon in densely populated, built up areas of Gaza, are likely to constitute a violation of the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks."
Amnesty International found that aerial strikes against civilian homes during Protective Edge by F-16 jets were specifically recorded and described by independent human rights organizations. The OCHCR also reported that the destruction to both property and civilian life as the result of air strikes could "amount to a violation of the principle of distinction...[and] may also constitute a direct attack against civilian objects or civilians, a war crime under international criminal law." Warplane airstrikes, including those from F-16s, killed at least 225 children according to a report by Defense for Children International.
Israeli airstrikes are ongoing.
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Economic Activism Highlights
- In May 2015 the Olgethorpe University Student Senate passed a resolution to divest from General Dynamics “based on evidence of their active role in human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
- Students at UC Los Angeles passed a resolution to divest from General Dynamics in November 2014, stating General Dynamics “provide[s] weapons used in attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.”
- The University of Michigan at Dearborn’s student council passed a divestment resolution in 2010, calling General Dynamics a “corporation that sell[s] weapons, goods, and services to Israel [and] in turn uses the weapons, goods, and services inhumanely.”
- In 2005 and 2006, the University of Michigan at Dearborn passed resolutions urging divestment from General Dynamics, citing the company’s “support and benefit from the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation.”