Philadelphia pro-Palestine protests target weapons manufacturers

By Betsey Piette
April 9, 2024


The Palestine Federation of Trade Unions has requested that workers around the world carry out protests against companies that manufacture the weapons used by Israel against Palestinians in Gaza. In response, opponents of the Israeli offensive protested in early April against two weapons manufacturers headquartered in Philadelphia.

Demonstrators denounce UPenn support for Ghost Robotics, Philadelphia, April 4, 2024. (Photo: Joe Piette)

Ghost Robotics, which designs and sells robot dogs to the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) for use in carrying out its genocide in Gaza, was the focus of an April 4 protest by 150 students and others on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. UPenn’s “Pennovation Works,” a technology incubator, houses the company, which also receives significant tax breaks from the City of Philadelphia.

The protesters demanded that UPenn and the City of Philadelphia cut ties with Ghost Robotics and that the company be shut down.

Pulling in an annual revenue of $30 million to $40 million, Ghost Robotics is currently the primary supplier of four-legged robot dogs to more than 25 “national security” contracts, with sales of over 450 units, each valued at $150,000. The U.S. Army has tested Ghost Robotics’ robot dogs with several styles of mounted rifles. The robot dogs can serve as docking stations for aerial drones, controlled by remote operators and deployed with AI-integration.

Speakers from the Philadelphia Palestine Coalition (PPC), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Workers World Party (WWP) addressed the rally, which was organized by Shut Down Ghost Robotics. More information is available on Instagram @shutdownghostrobotics.

‘Day & Zimmermann – we charge you with genocide!’

On April 5, a protest was held outside the Spring Garden Street headquarters of munitions manufacturer Day & Zimmermann by the International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine (ICSGP). Co-sponsors included the PPC, Black Alliance for Peace, WWP, JVP, Popular Resistance, WILPF, PAL-AWDA New York/New Jersey, Palestinian Assembly and Liberation and other social justice activists. The ICSGP has over 2,000 endorsing organizations in 100 countries.

Protesters denounce weapons-maker Day & Zimmermann’s support for Israeli genocide in Gaza. Philadelphia, April 5, 2024. (Photo: Joe Piette)

As a sign of how important Day & Zimmermann is to the U.S. war machine, City authorities stationed dozens of police outside the company’s offices even before protesters began to arrive.

As part of the launch of a U.S. campaign focusing on these arms companies, the action announced legal briefings by the PAL Law Commission to denounce Day & Zimmermann and block it from producing the ammunition used by the IOF in Gaza. D&Z produces a major share of this ammunition. Since October 7, the U.S. government has greatly increased its supply of weapons to the IOF.

Day & Zimmermann is the sole provider of three of the most frequently used munitions in Gaza: M795 155mm tank shells, M107 high explosive projectiles, and M830A1 HEAT 120mm cartridges. With annual revenues of $2.7 billion in 2023, the privately held company has made billions in profits selling Israel the ammunition used to kill and maim tens of thousands of Palestinian children and their families.

In a press release announcing the April 5 protest, attorney Lamis Deek, founder and director of the PAL Law Commission, stated: “D&Z should take heed that neither borders nor proximity to power will serve as sanctuaries against liability, be it legal, civil, financial, and beyond. They face grave compliance breaches and potentially criminal charges, in several forums.”

‘More cases in the works’

Deek stressed: “War Crimes Companies are being pursued and there are more cases in the works,” the release continued. “It behooves D&Z to cease their munition supply until all Israeli war crimes end, so as to extricate themselves from the ever-tightening grip of the accountability movement which is mushrooming — here, and all over the world.”

  1. Asli Duncan, an adjunct professor at the Community College of Philadelphia, located just blocks from D&Z, read a statement from their union calling on the CCP Board of Trustees to return/refuse Day & Zimmermann’s recent $5,000 contribution to the school’s annual Black and Gold scholarship gala.

In a press release by the PPC prior to the rally, organizer Nada Abuasi pointed out that an Israeli-operated tank utilizing D&Z’s M830A1 rounds killed six-year-old Hind Rajab while she was trapped in a car for several days with her dead family members.

Abuasi continued: “It’s outrageous that a weapons manufacturer like Day & Zimmermann operates in our economically segregated and gentrifying city, while Philadelphians face homelessness, failing transportation, university-driven gentrification, and underfunded schools. Philadelphia cannot harbor companies implicated in genocide.

“As Philadelphians, we will continue to fight relentlessly to ensure that complicit institutions in our community — from universities like Penn and Drexel to private corporations like Day & Zimmermann — will be held accountable.”

Spiral Q Puppet Theater and other volunteers provided life-size cardboard missiles mounted on sticks, which were carried by several demonstrators. Organizers called for sustained mass mobilizations against war criminals like D&Z.