Published on Monday, July 31, 2006 by Agence France Presse
US 'Arms' Flights, Headed for Israel, Avoid Scottish Airport
Two US cargo planes believed to be carrying bombs bound for Israel have failed to land for refuelling at a Scottish airport, where a protest was staged at the expected stop-over, the airport said.
Prestwick Airport. Two US cargo planes believed to be carrying bombs bound for Israel have failed to land for refuelling at a Scottish airport, where a protest was staged at the expected stop-over.(AFP/File/Ian Stewart)
Separately, a source at Glasgow's Prestwick airport added that the planes were diverted to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, in eastern England, which is operated by the US Air Force.
"No flights were due through today carrying hazardous materials," a spokesperson for Prestwick airport said on Sunday.
News of the diversion came as about 150 people demonstrated outside the main entrance of Prestwick airport. Peace campaigners fear that US planes which have refuelled at Prestwick are delivering arms to Israel for its offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Demonstrators unfurled banners, Lebanese flags and placards splashed with graphic images of the destruction being caused in the Middle East, before chanting peace slogans and making a series of speeches.
Protesters included members of Scotland's Lebanese community.
Referring to British Prime Minister Tony Blair's support for US President George W. Bush's refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire or condemn Israel's actions, they chanted: "Tony Blair shame on you", "George Bush shame on you" and "Stop the war".
Prestwick's coastal location on the trans-Atlantic flight path makes it a regular staging post for aircraft crossing the ocean.
Meanwhile in central London on Sunday, hundreds of anti-Israel protesters gathered in Trafalgar Square to demonstrate against the ongoing violence in Lebanon.
Waving Lebanese and Hezbollah flags, they cheered as a series of speakers spoke out against the escalating conflict.
Veteran speaker and former Labour MP Tony Benn said Britain's parliament, currently on summer recess, must be recalled to debate the issue.
"As we talk, women and children are being killed in the Lebanon by bombs sold and given by the US and passed through British airports with the support of the British government," he told the crowd.
"What we are witnessing is a war crime committed by Israel with the support of the American and the British governments -- that is the truth."
Fifty-two people were killed on Sunday, including 30 children, in Israeli air raids that destroyed houses in the southern Lebanese village of Qana, police and rescue workers said.
Copyright 2006 Agence France Presse