United Technologies Corporation (UTC) is a diversified company that provides high-tech products and services to the global aerospace and commercial building systems industries. It is one of the top-10 defense companies in the world, with 21% of its revenues in 2013 derived from military sales.
The company’s aviation subsidiary, Pratt and Whitney, produces the F-100 engine series that are used in Israel’s F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft, and another of its engines powers Israel’s future attack aircraft, the F-35.
F-16 jets, in particular, have been used against Palestinian civilians in air strikes over densely-populated areas in violation of international law. The United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict ruled that the Israeli attacks in 2008-9, during Operation Cast Lead, constituted violations of international human rights and humanitarian law as well as possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. 1394 Palestinian men and women were killed in these attacks, of them 345 were minors.
Amnesty International documented the unlawful use of F-16s to target and kill civilians during Operation Cast Lead, “Israeli F-16 combat aircraft bombed several homes full of civilians, killing their inhabitants and in some cases neighbours and relatives who had taken shelter with them after being forced to flee their own homes.”
Aerial strikes against civilian homes by F-16 jets were specifically recorded and described by independent human rights organizations following the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza known as Protective Edge. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 2192 Palestinians were killed during the 50 days of Operation Protective Edge, including numerous whole families. More than 20,000 housing units were destroyed, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless.
Economic Activism Highlights
- In May 2015 the Olgethorpe University Student Senate passed a resolution to divest from United Technologies “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 UT in November 2014, stating UT “provide[s] weapons used in attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.”
- The University of Michigan at Dearborn student senate voted in 2014 to create an advisory committee because UT “sells helicopters that have been used to kill [Palestinian] civilians in attacks on towns and refugee camps.”
- In 2013, UC San Diego’s student council voted to urge engagement with and divestment from United Technologies, citing its “profit from the military occupation, siege, blockade, and apartheid imposed upo n the Palestinian people.”
- Undergraduate students at Arizona State University, in June 2012, voted to divest from and blacklist UT due to its “complicit[y] in human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian Territories.”
- The University of Michigan at Dearborn student government passed a divestment resolution in 2010, citing UT’s “...[sale of] weapons, goods, and services to Israel.”
- In 2009, the Board of Trustees at Hampshire College, following a two-year student-led campaign, approved divestment from UT due to “human rights concerns in occupied Palestine.”
- In 2005 and 2006, the student council at the University of Michigan at Dearborn had also passed resolutions urging divestment from United Technologies, citing the company’s “support and benefit from the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation.”
- In 2005, the Presbyterian Church began engaging with UT over concerns that the company “may be profiting from involvement in...obstacles to a just peace.”