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Questions over taxpayer funds given to Fife-based firm supplying Israel with weapons

US arms manufacturing giant Raytheon was handed £600,000 of public money as recently as last year.

Weapons firm Raytheon has a headquarters in Glenrothes.
Weapons firm Raytheon has a headquarters in Glenrothes.

First Minister Humza Yousaf is under pressure to distance the Scottish Government from a Fife-based arms manufacturer amid fears the firm makes missiles which have killed thousands in Gaza.

American defence company Raytheon, which has a headquarters in Glenrothes along with dozens in the United States, was handed £600,000 of public funding from Scottish Enterprise in 2021-22.

In the US, factories owned by the defence contractors – who supply Israel – have faced demonstrations from pro-Palestine activists in the past week.

Internationally the firm has played a key role in bolstering Israel’s Iron Dome, an air defence system which blocks incoming rockets launched by Hamas.

Mid Scotland and Fife Greens MSP Mark Ruskell, who has previously protested against Raytheon in Glenrothes, claims the company is “fuelling war crimes”.

Raytheon was unavailable for comment and it is not known whether weapons sold to Israel are manufactured at the Glenrothes hub where hundreds are employed.

Mr Ruskell – who has protested against Raytheon in the past – said: “A lot of people will be shocked to learn of the awful role that Raytheon’s weapons have played in enabling human rights abuses and fuelling war crimes and destruction around the world.

Mark Ruskell, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife. Image: Andrew MacColl/Shutterstock.

“In the past this has been in Yemen, today it’s Gaza.

“The bombing and siege of Gaza has killed thousands of children and caused a huge amount of pain and suffering.”

Mr Ruskell wants the Scottish Government to openly distance itself from the arms contractor in light of the destruction currently unfolding in Gaza.

He added: “The Scottish Government has rightly condemned the destruction that has been inflicted and have led calls for a ceasefire.

“All governments must end their support for companies that are profiting from the bombing of Gaza.”

The war in Gaza has cost thousands of lives. Image: Shutterstock.

The relationship between Holyrood and Raytheon came under scrutiny in 2018 due to weapons by the firm being used by Saudi Arabia in their war against Yemen.

Campaign Against Arms Trade, a pressure group demanding a ceasefire, insisted public funds must stop flowing to companies manufacturing weapons.

A spokesperson said: “Scotland must take a stand, because while these brutal attacks may be thousands of miles away, the bombs and equipment used are created right on our doorsteps and we have a responsibility to end this cycle of endless death and destruction at its source.

“This includes bringing an abrupt end to the millions of pounds flooding the pipeline of public funds from the Scottish Government via Scottish Enterprise to companies who are making record profits for their shareholders from the suffering of Palestinians.”

Scottish Enterprise insisted no money being given to Raytheon was supporting the manufacturing of deadly weapons.

The weapon building firm has received £800,000 in total from the public body since 2007.

A spokesperson said: “Our legally binding grant contracts make it clear to defence companies, such as Raytheon Systems Ltd, that our funding support must only be used to help deliver an agreed project at a Scottish site that facilitates their continued diversification into civilian markets, with a view to sustaining and growing employment.

“Scottish Enterprise funding does not support the development or manufacture of munitions.”

‘Appropriate safeguards’

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government and our enterprise and skills agencies do not provide funding for the manufacture of munitions.

“Support for defence sector companies is primarily focused on helping firms to diversify their activities and technologies, ensuring Scotland continues to benefit from significant economic returns and thousands of jobs in the sector.

“Our enterprise agencies have appropriate safeguards in place to ensure that any funding provided is used only for the specific purpose intended and that human rights due diligence checks are central to the application process.”

At a protest in Dunfermline last week, North East Greens MSP Maggie Chapman said the conflict was being “fuelled by arms manufactures like Raytheon in Glenrothes”.

The Greens also insist companies who have profited from illegal Israeli settlements built in Palestine must not receive public funding.

The Israeli military has been bombing Gaza in retaliation for massacres carried about by militant group Hamas on October 7, which killed more than 1,000 people.

Israel insists it has a right to defend itself from incursions by terrorists, and cut off fuel, food and water supplies to Gaza.

But critics warn the scale of the campaign against Hamas has been disproportionate, killing thousands of Palestinians.

Humza Yousaf’s in-laws returned home after being trapped in Gaza.

First Minister Humza Yousaf’s in-laws became caught up in the conflict when they were trapped in Gaza while visiting an elderly relative.

His wife’s parents, who both live in Dundee, were eventually able to escape the carnage after managing to reach the Egyptian border.

During their nightmare ordeal in Gaza they were left fearing for their lives and had to resort to drinking seawater to survive.