Photos: 'Die in' protest halts traffic at Raytheon's main entrance

As traffic hissed and thundered along South Nogales Highway, several dozen people lay on the asphalt of East Hermans Road, blocking employees to the defense contractor Raytheon and demanding an end to U.S. military support of Israel.

As a few Tucson Police officers stood at the edges, members of the Tucson Coalition for Palestine pretended to be dead for nearly 80 minutes as of part of a “die-in” in front of the military contractor’s main entrance. Along with banners and signs, the group blocked the road with metal ladders.

Some people honked in support, while others snarled at the group from their cars. A few of the protestors laid on yoga mats, while others covered themselves in white plastic sheets, akin to body bags. One woman held her young child, who babbled quietly as her mother lay still.

The group said their protest was designed to “send a message that Raytheon cannot continue business as usual while its weapons are being used for the mass murder of civilians in Gaza. Demonstrators will symbolically bring the death for which Raytheon is responsible back to its doorstep.” 

On Oct. 7, during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, the militant group Hamas attacked Israel, killing as many as 1,400 people and taking nearly 200 hostages. Israel responded immediately, launching a series of counter-strikes, called Operation Swords of Iron, against military and civilian targets in the Gaza Strip, a stretch of land pressed up against Israel and Egypt and facing the Mediterranean Sea.

President Joe Biden said after the attacks at least 11 U.S. citizens were killed,
and U.S. officials said they did not know if American citizens were
taken hostage.

After the attacks, nearly a thousand people filled the sculpture garden at Tucson’s Jewish Community Center to show solidarity for Israel.

Through the rest of October, Israeli air strikes continued, and the Gaza Health Ministry has said more than 9,000 people were killed. On Friday, a commander with the Israel Defense Forces said air and ground forces were “stepping up” their operations, targeting tunnels built by Hamas. The IDF also knocked out internet and communications across the Gaza Strip, the Guardian reported.

Meanwhile, thousands of people have protested throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia to show support for Palestinians, Reuters reported, with many pushing for a ceasefire.

Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will not agree to a cease-fire, and Israeli military forces have begun to push into Gaza as part of a “second phase”  of the country’s military attacks against Hamas.

“Just as the United States would not agree to a cease-fire after Pearl Harbor or after the terrorist attack of 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas after the horrific attacks of October 7,” Netanyahu said during a press conference on Monday, NPR reported.

In Tucson, organizers said their protest was part of larger actions around the word as people are “taking action against the weapon manufacturers whose missiles are killing people in Gaza.”

“Here in Tucson, Raytheon is a major supplier of missiles, bombs, and weapons systems to Israel through direct contracts and via the U.S. Department of Defense. These weapons are being used daily to commit war crimes,” the group said. “Tucson residents will say no to a genocide economy and demand that Raytheon stop profiting from the mass murder of civilians.”