Submitted anonymously to Autonomy News
“Our fates are all in the hands of a drone operator in a military base somewhere just over the Israeli border. The operator looks at Gaza the way an unruly boy looks at the screen of a video game. He presses a button and might destroy an entire street. He might decide to terminate the life of someone walking along the pavement, or he might uproot a tree in an orchard that hasn’t yet borne fruit.”
Atef Abu Saif, The Drone Eats With Me: Diaries from a City Under Fire
For the second time in less than a week, Bristol activists have targeted a crucial service provider to the Israeli arms company, Elbit Systems UK (ESUK). Last week, it was the offices of multinational law firm Osborne Clarke, where ESUK is registered, yesterday it was the real estate and property investment company, Jones Long Lasalle (JLL), Elbit’s London landlord. The ‘Grade A’ offices of JLL in Bristol were defaced with red paint, to symbolise the blood of Palestinians killed by Elbit’s weapons, and splattered with slogans to remind JLL to ‘Evict Elbit’.
Activists have been targeting JLL as part of the attempt to shut down Elbit’s UK operations, and this action was the second in a week against the real estate agent, after the Manchester office was attacked on Wednesday. JLL’s subsidiary LaSalle Investment Management are the landlords of ESUK’s London headquarters, allowing the company to coordinate, lobby and scheme to market Elbit products manufactured in the different UK subsidiaries. ESUK has 5 such subsidiaries, one of which was occupied and shut down for 6 days at the end of last week.
Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest private arms company, a major supplier to the Israeli army (IDF), and responsible for producing the vast majority of Israel’s drones, whose traumatic and devastating effects Atef Abu Saif refers to in the quote above. Elbit’s drones helped to guide Israeli bombs towards their Palestinian targets in the 51-day onslaught in 2014, when over 2,000 Palestinians were killed, and Elbit’s drones have hovered menacingly above the Gaza strip, before and ever since. Two weeks ago, when Israel again bombarded the strip, killing nearly 250 Palestinians, Elbit’s drones played their part.
ESUK’s drone components
These are just three of the drone components which Elbit Systems UK, sitting in its London office, coordinates and markets – not just to Israel, but to other war zones around the world.
- The Hermes 450 drone, described by Elbit as “the primary platform of the IDF in counter-terror operations”, is advertised as “combat proven… with over 300,000 operational flight hours”. The engine for the Hermes 450 is made by the Elbit UK’s subsidiary UAV engines, based in Shenstone, Staffordshire.
- The Hermes 900, or ‘Kochav’, is said to have undergone a ‘baptism of fire’ during the 2014 Gaza onslaught, in the words of an IDF Squadron Commander. The Kochav was modified as a direct result of the 51-day massacre. Sensors which are fitted to the Hermes 900 feature on Elbit Systems UK’s website, and are manufactured by one Elbit subsidiary in Kent, Instro Precision, and another in Manchester, Ferranti Technologies.
- The Skylark mini drone is ‘one of the top-7 technologies in use by the IDF’. During “Operation Brother’s Keeper” in 2014, when night raids over 11 days resulted in the arrest of about 350 Palestinians, the IDF acknowledged that “we wouldn’t be able to carry out large parts of our operation without [Skylarks]”. Instro Precision, the Kent-based subsidiary of Elbit, developed the micro designated marker (MDM) for the Skylark and ESUK advertises the entire drone.
Abu Saif says that the fates of the Gazan people lie in the hands of the drone operator, just over the border in Israel. But the fates of the Gazan people are also in the hands of others in the chain of supply, including companies in the UK which manufacture parts, or which allow the parent company to have a London base from which to coordinate its actions. JLL is part of the chain of supply. It also holds the fate of the Gazan people in its hands.