Veteran’s Trial Will Highlight Weapons Manufacturers’ Complicity in Gaza Genocide

Jack Gilroy.

This Wednesday, June 26, Jack Gilroy, an 89-year-old veteran, will tell a court in Endicott, New York why he was compelled to deliver a letter to weapons manufacturer BAE Systems, protesting their weapons shipments to Israel, and why he should not be convicted of trespassing.

“This case is not about trespass,” said Jack Gilroy, who was a machine gunner in occupied Austria. “My intent was not to break the law but to uphold it. I was warning BAE Systems management and staff that they were complicit in genocide.”

Gilroy, a member of Veterans For Peace (VFP), is being tried on the charge of trespassing, and faces a fine or jail time if found guilty. He will testify at his trial on Wednesday that he has written letters to public officials, given public talks, voted for antiwar candidates, and signed petitions calling for a Ceasefire in Gaza.

“But the genocide has continued,” says Gilroy, “prompting me to try to meet directly with BAE Systems management to implore them to stop. On April 15, when I attempted to give the letter to BAE officials describing how they have run afoul of U.S. laws by producing weapons for Israel, I was arrested.”

The Cold War-era veteran called BAE Systems, Inc. and other weapons manufacturers “Merchants of Death,” and said, “several U.S. laws strictly prohibit sending weapons to countries that commit war crimes or violate human rights, so this is serious business.

“BAE designs and makes the firing systems for the ammunition most commonly used by Israel, 155mm artillery shells. These shells can be loaded with cluster bombs, white Phosphorus or high explosives. They tear apart people, homes, hospitals and schools in Gaza, making BAE a party to ongoing war crimes.”

The 11-page letter, written by human rights attorney Terry Lodge, details five federal statutes and an administrative rule violated by the weapons transfers to Israel. Veterans For Peace originally sent the letter to the State Department in February. Three months later, their certified letter came back ‘Returned to Sender.’ Last March, fifteen VFP tried to hand deliver this same to the U.S. State Department office in Buffalo but were turned away.

Gilroy will also submit an exhaustively documented paper, Genocide in Gaza: Analysis of International Law and Its Application to Israel’s Military Actions Since October 7, 2023, from some of the most prestigious law schools in the U.S., alleging war crimes committed by Israel.

Jack Gilroy, who is also a member of the Catholic peace organization Pax Christi USA, stressed that “This trial is not about me. It’s about a war industry that has become as acceptable to the American people as the building and use of crematoria in Germany.”

BAE Systems, headquartered in London, designs, manufactures, and sells military weapons and equipment, including electronic warfare systems, components for fighter jets, combat vehicles, gun systems, explosives, and drones. They also manufacture 155mm artillery shells, the most wanted ammunition by Israel and Ukraine. According to the Government Accountability Office, operating and support costs for a GPS-guided 155mm shell supplied to Ukraine (the M982 Ecalibur) doubled between 2011 and 2022, to roughly $100,000 per shell.

As of 2022, BAE is listed as the world’s seventh-largest weapons manufacturer worldwide, behind U.S. companies Lockheed Martin, RTX, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and General Dynamics. BAE is the largest in Europe, with $25.7 billion in annual revenue, 96% of which derives from its “defense sector.” BAE Systems also operates in many locations throughout the United States.

An investigation by the American Friends Service Committee details the BAE weapons that for years have been used in the commission of war crimes against Palestinians.

Veterans For Peace is calling on peace-loving people to visit the offices and factories of weapons manufacturers in their communities to remind them that their products are killing tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, primarily women and children.

“Nobody should profit from the slaughter of innocents,” says Jack Gilroy. “We must protest loudly and persistently, lest we ourselves become complicit in war crimes and genocide.”

Gerry Condon is a Vietnam-era veteran who resisted the war while an active-duty soldier. He is a past president of Veterans For Peace, a current Board member, and a coordinator of its Nuclear Abolition Working Group.