Arrest in protest against Israeli invasion

Updated at 10:10pm on 17 January 2009

A protester has been arrested at a demonstration outside an Auckland business said to have provided parts for Israeli bombs.

Rakon in Mount Wellington is said to manufacture crystal oscillators that are used in guidance systems for missiles and munitions systems.

Protester Tyler Culpepper climbed onto the building’s roof on Saturday afternoon, adjusting some signage with paint to read ‘Rakon kills’.

He’ll appear in court next week on a wilful damage charge.

About 400 people took part in the protest, saying the oscillators were in weapons used by Israel in its attacks on Gaza.

South Island protests

More than 500 people took to the streets in Christchurch on Saturday to demonstrate against Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

The “Justice for Palestine” group and its supporters marched from the Canterbury Museum to Cathedral Square carrying placards declaring “resistance is not terrorism” and chanting.

One of the demonstrators, Omer El-Hadad, says Israel’s invasion is a crime against humanity and the New Zealand Government needs to make it clear it does not condone Israel’s invasion.

“Mr John Key has to stand up for the truth, stand up clearly and say what is going on in the Middle East is wrong, it has to be stopped.

“The war crimes that are happening there – all this has to be stopped.”

In Dunedin, about 100 people also took to the streets to demonstrate against the Israeli offensive.

Auckland protesters finger Rakon

The march in Auckland on Saturday was organised by the group Global Peace and Justice.

The group’s spokesperson, Mike Treen, says Rakon manufactures items used in targeted bombs such as those currently being used on Gaza by the Israeli air force.

“The information we have is that it forms an important part of those components already,” Mr Treen told Radio New Zealand .

“The company says that it seeks to be the dominant player in these targetting systems and already has something like 25% of the worldwide market, so I think that’s pretty clear that they are.”

However, Rakon marketing manager, Justin Maloney, says its products are not sold directly to the Israeli government and the company cannot logistically track all of its products to an end user.

Mr Maloney says Rakon’s products are used in a wide variety of applications and it takes hundreds of components to build the GPS systems used in “smart bombs”.

Health officials in Gaza say at least 1,150 Palestinians have been killed and 5,100 wounded – a large majority of them civilians – since Israel began bombarding the territory on 27 December. Israel says the bombings are in response to rocket attacks against its people.

Thirteen Israelis – including three civilians – have died, while 233 soldiers have been wounded, the Israeli army says.

Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

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