We republish here a press release from Palestine Action activists who are currently taking courageous direct action to shut down a Staffordshire factory owned by Elbit, Israel’s largest private arms firm, which is also involved in policing and surveilling migrants and refuees arriving to Britain. Palestine Action can be followed on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
Three activists who locked on to close the gates of Israeli arms company, UAV Engines were arrested yesterday while 5 protesters continue to occupy the roof into a second day.
On Monday other supporters came to join the demonstration. The entire front of the factory remained covered in the red paint symbolising the blood spilt by the use of the weapons made by Elbit Systems. Many of the windows of the factory were smashed. Pictures of Palestinian children killed by Israel were on display along the front of the factory along with banners reading ‘Elbit weapons, tested on Palestinians’. While speeches from the roof and the ground drew direct links between the weapons being built in the factory and Israel’s regular attacks against the Palestinians.
At 4pm the 3 activists who had locked on at the front gates were arrested. Police threatened to arrest the protesters on the roof but have so far not removed the activists.
They had originally scaled the building in the early hours of Monday morning, others locked on in front of the gates. Chains were also used to close the gates shut. They are calling for the factory and all Elbit Systems sites to be shut down in the UK, and an end to UK complicity with Israeli apartheid.
Elbit Systems openly market their weapons as ‘field-tested’ on Palestinian civilians in Gaza. They provide the Israeli military with over 80% of its military drone fleet, which is used to terrorise and massacre Palestinians in Gaza. These drones include the military drones Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 which were employed extensively during the 51-day attack on Gaza in 2014, which killed over 2200 Palestinians including 500 children. Elbit has also recently won the contract to surveil and stop migrants and refugees trying to arrive to the UK shores. UAV Engines produce the engines for Elbit’s drones.
Palestine Action as a grassroots network of activists dedicated to ending Israeli apartheid, occupation and colonisation, has been active for just over a month. In this month, they have held over 15 successful actions targeting the company. Palestine Action’s growing popularity has begun to be seen as a threat to both Elbit’s business in the UK and Israel’s apartheid regime.
At a recent meeting between Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs Orit Farkash and the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Minister Farkash demanded that the British government take action against the growing BDS campaign protesting both Elbit Systems and Israel’s apartheid regime, specifically referring to the successful actions of Palestine Action.
The group says:
‘The UK government has been complicit in the colonisation of Palestine for over 100 years. Now they continue to profit from, sustain and facilitate Israel’s apartheid regime. While our government continues to turn a blind eye to Elbit Systems continuing to arm Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people, we too will continue to disrupt and take direct action for the sake of human rights, justice and freedom. We call on all those who stand against racism and for humanity to take action, join us and shut Elbit down for good.’
Contact number for Palestine Action: 07514668600