Palestine Supporters in Philadelphia Block Day & Zimmermann Weapons Company Entrances

Philadelphia, PA — Around a dozen protesters marched from City Hall in Center City up to 1500 Spring Garden Avenue, the headquarters of privately held Day & Zimmermann corporation on Thursday, March 28. The company says it has more than 43,000 employees and is a leading provider of munitions,” which includes 120mm tank rounds for Merkava tanks employed by Israel’s occupation forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as 155mm artillery rounds.

The late March protest was called by Extinction Rebellion Philadelphia and supported by Montgomery County-based Montco for Palestine. Protesters briefly held positions blocking the parking lot and main building entrances — in both cases they were threatened with arrest by Philadelphia Police Department Civil Affairs officers wearing plain clothes & body cameras, although no actual arrests or detentions took place. (The city government says that Civil Affairs is supposed to lead protest responses [PDF].) While one of the officers joked to an organizer that it was a small demonstration, the event highlighted that even early on a wet day people are committed to sending a message about the lethal products made by Day & Zimmermann.

John, a retired 40-year union construction worker, told Unicorn Riot,

“It’s offensive to me our tax dollars go to murder people anywhere in the world, especially that our government is funding and arming this genocide in Gaza. It’s reprehensible, and both parties are responsible for this. This is why we need a party of our own and not subservience to Democrats or Republicans. Day and Zimmermann is a construction company but also is in the munitions business. They do business with Israel, with the IDF. They’re a legitimate target for boycott and for targeting as an accomplice of genocide. They should be in the International Court of Justice with every corporation that arms Israel.”

John, Retired union construction worker

Since the environmental group Extinction Rebellion organized the event, we asked them about the ecological fallout of the current conflict. Another participant told Unicorn Riot that “without a doubt” Day & Zimmermann is contributing to ecological problems because of chemicals in the munitions:

“These bombs are dropping and it’s decimating the ecology. The bombs release pollutants into the atmosphere, so it is happening directly in Palestine that the ecology, the environment is being destroyed and a result of that destruction is that we’re having chemicals released into the atmosphere. […] It’s measurable. It’s a statistically significant change that has been measured since this bombing campaign started in October.”

Protest participant

Another organizer told us Day & Zimmermann munitions are contributing to the ecological devastation of the Gaza Strip:

[Day & Zimmermann is] “one of the largest arms suppliers to the US military […], we’re just here to shut down for Palestine. We want to stop the genocide and we want to make sure that we’re targeting companies that are complicit in that in our local communities and Day and Zimmermann is one of them. […] The ecological devastation in Gaza is unimaginable. Environmentalists have said it’s going to take an insurmountable number of years to even be able to rebuild, to even be able to get the land back to the state that was in originally. Obviously, genocide causes mass pollution problems. Their plumbing system has completely been dissolved. There’s raw sewage that has been consistently been dumped into the sea. […] Plus, you also have the aftereffects of all the munitions being dropped. In addition to internationally banned weapons of war, including white phosphorus. […] And they’ve also obviously destroyed all the agriculture, including the animals. It is a largely self-sustaining–was a largely self-sustaining society–through the blockade. So, yeah, a lot of the trees, it’s polluted [in] forests.”

Protest organizer

The organizer recommended the BDS Movement (Boycott Divestment & Sanctions) website for more info about corporations that work with Israel. The American Friends Service Committee identified Day & Zimmermann as a major source for shells to Israel:

  • [Day & Zimmermann subsidiary American Ordinance LLC] operates the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant (IAAP), which has been the source of much of the artillery munitions used by the Israeli military, including 155mm rounds, fired by Israel’s M109 howitzer guns, and 120mm M830A1 High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) rounds, fired by Israel’s Merkava battle tanks.
  • The factory has been operated by Mason & Hanger since 1951. Between 1998-2007, it was operated by American Ordnance, a joint venture of Mason & Hanger and General Dynamics. Day & Zimmermann acquired Mason & Hanger in 1999, and in 2007 acquired General Dynamics’ stake in American Ordnance.
  • In November, Israeli tanks fired M830A1 rounds as part of their attack on a U.N. school in Gaza. The serial number on one of the rounds suggests that it was made at IAAP by Mason & Hanger in December 1990.
  • On January 29, Israeli tanks fired M830A1 rounds as part of their attack that killed 6-year-old Hind Rajab, her six family members, and the medics that attempted to rescue her, in the Gaza neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa. The serial number on an exploded round found inside the ambulance suggests that it was made at IAAP by Mason & Hanger in November 1996.
  • In December, the U.S. government used emergency measures to approve sending Israel an estimated number of 14,000 M830A1 tank rounds, without congressional review. The transfer, from the existing inventory of the U.S. Army, is worth $106.5 million, funded by U.S. taxpayer’s money.
  • Day & Zimmermann’s factory in Texarkana, Texas, is the current supplier of M830A1 rounds for the U.S. Army. Between 2017-2021, the U.S. Army’s supplier of these munitions was a Northrop Grumman factory in Plymouth, Minnesota.
American Friends Service Committee, “The Companies Profiting from Israel’s 2023-2024 Attacks on Gaza

Unicorn Riot also covered a similar protest at the Northrop Grumman factory in Plymouth early on February 12.

In a statement on October 13, 2023, Day & Zimmerman Chair and CEO Hal Yoh said, “Acts of terror, oppression and the loss of innocent lives is tragic and should be condemned. This is not about specific groups, ideology, religion, or politics. We stand with those who work to protect freedom and democracy around the world.”

Regardless, munitions made by Day & Zimmermann subsidiaries Mason & Hanger and American Ordnance have caused “the loss of innocent lives” during the conflict. A much larger demonstration by the Philly Palestine Coalition network on Saturday, March 9 also brought protesters to the company’s doorstep.

Israel’s demand for these munitions, particularly artillery shells, has also sapped the supply chain for Ukraine’s military, which has been attempting to fend off the Russian army since the full-scale invasion that commenced in February 2022.

Day & Zimmermann’s Iowa Army Ammunition Plant has been slated for $1.2 billion in upgrades according to an October 2023 report in the Des Moines Register, but the US military refused to tell the paper about specific ammunition flows to Israel.

An organizers’ flyer about Day & Zimmermann war materiel references the War Reserve Stockpile Allies-Israel (WRSA-I), a strategic pre-positioned stockpile of weapons. Only a handful of US-based manufacturers create ammunition of these types. WRSA-I is “a little-understood and opaque store of weapons” inside Israel but managed by the US Department of Defense, according to Just Security, which reports “publicly available policy guidance for WRSA-I is all but non-existent.” The hawkish pro-Israel Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) called for “replenishing and updating” this stockpile in 2020. (BreakingDefense also covered the issue of WRSA-I artillery stockpiles, Ukraine and Israel last August.)

Three observers from the building, two recorded demonstrators. CBS-3 is co-located in the building and did not cover the demonstration
An observer recording from inside the building.
Three Philadelpia Police Department officers believed to all be from Civil Affairs. The officer at right issued threats to arrest after demonstrators blocked entryways.

Image gallery: (1) Three observers from the building containing Day & Zimmerman offices; two recorded demonstrators. CBS-3 is co-located in the building and did not cover the demonstration. (2) An observer from inside the building recorded also demonstrators. (3) Three Philadelphia Police Department officers believed to all be from Civil Affairs. The officer at right issued threats to arrest after demonstrators blocked entryways.

Antipersonnel mines are another controversial type of weapon, and Day & Zimmermann is connected to that business as well. In 2014, the Obama Administration said it would abandon the technology; procurement was suspended during the Obama Administration and then rebooted under Trump. Day & Zimmermann makes both GATOR [PDF] and Volcano [PDF] mine distribution system under the euphemistically named “Area Denial” brand category. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines reported more than 1660 people were killed by mines in 2022 [PDF].

All photos by Dan Feidt for Unicorn Riot.

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