Via Palestine Action
- More activists from Palestine Action remanded in prison as police repression against anti-war activists intensifies
- Two activists from Palestine Action and Animal Rebellion were arrested on March 16th and remanded in prison after shutting down another Elbit munitions factory in Tamworth
- Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest private arms company and has ten offices and production sites across the UK
On March 16th, two Palestine Action activists climbed onto the roof of the Elbit’s Elite KL — a subsidiary factory that makes parts for tanks and military vehicles. They smashed sensor lights, CCTV cameras, sprayed parts of the factory in blood-red paint and wrote slogans such as: Elite KL profits from death. After 12 hours, police finally removed them using a cherry picker and zip line, arrested them and put them behind bars in Dovegate Prison after the courts refused to grant them bail. An appeal for their release has been lodged for this coming Wednesday 24th March.
This action occurred just one week after six Palestine Action members were arrested for allegedly carrying items which “could be used” to commit “criminal damage”. After being sent to court, bail was refused for two of the activists, who had not committed any crime, but were unjustly sent to prison nonetheless. Both individuals have since been released on bail.
A member of Palestine Action said about the latest Elbit factory shutdown in Tamworth: “The state can lock us up, imprison our activists and do everything in their power to clamp down on our movement to prevent evil arms companies from operating in this country, but they will never stop us. Enough of us know the difference between right and wrong – and the simple fact is: it’s fundamentally wrong to host and facilitate the work of illegal weapons manufacturers and to allow them to get away with it.
“As the police harass and intimidate those fighting for the end of this murderous trade, innocent people continue to be slaughtered in Gaza and the West Bank with munitions made in this very building. It is fundamental for everyone to remember why we are here today, and why we will continue to shut down Elbit factories until they are hounded out of this country. The more the state represses our activists, the harder we will fight until our simple demands are heard.”
Palestine Action is a direct-action network of groups and individuals formed with the mandate of taking direct action against Elbit Systems’ UK-based locations at a grassroots level, calling for them all to be shut down and for the British government to end its complicity in Israel’s apartheid regime.
The unusual decision to refuse bail over such a charge is yet another escalation in the ongoing campaign of oppression and intimidation against anti-war activists allegedly linked to Palestine Action.
Since the direct action network was founded in August 2020, activists have been routinely arrested on spurious charges, had their homes raided and computer devices confiscated. They have even been stopped under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which enables police officers to interrogate individuals without the standard safeguards.
Palestine Action has accused the police of launching a wholly disproportionate response to the movement’s campaign to shut Elbit sites down in the UK — a firm responsible for war crimes in Gaza and an exporter of killer drones, along with other weaponry, to several other oppressive regimes across the globe.
However, the disproportionate response by police has not dissuaded the group from continuing to take action against Elbit Systems. The shut-down of Elite-KL also came three weeks after six members of Palestine Action shut down Shenstone’s factory for the 4th time, following another successful occupation of the Elbit’s Ferranti site in Oldham. Collectively, in just five months, the factory closures have cost Elbit an estimated total of £1,335,000.
The new alliances between varying direct action groups and Palestine Action’s expanding membership also sends a strong message to Israel’s largest private arms company, that resistance to its crimes against the Palestinian people is fast-growing in the UK. “These weapons factories do not belong in civilised society,” says one of the currently jailed activists, “Its wrong that we’re allowing them to profit off the murder of innocent civilians. These companies hide in plain sight and not enough people are aware of what goes on inside them. I can’t just sit by while places like this exist.”
Notes to editors
For more information or to arrange interview contact: 07840150925
- Protesters shut down Israeli drones factory for a third time in under six months: https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/w/protesters-shut-down-israeli-drones-factory-third-time-under-six-months
- Activists take to the roof of Shenstone factory in latest protest: https://lichfieldlive.co.uk/2021/02/23/activists-take-to-the-roof-of-shenstone-factory-in-latest-protest/?utm_content=buffer42bb0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
- Palestine Action occupies UAV Engines factory in Shenstone for three days: https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/uk-israel-drone-elbit-factory-palestine-occupation
- XR joins forces with Palestinian rights activists to shut down Israeli arms factory in Oldham: https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/xr-joins-forces-palestinian-rights-activists-shut-down-israeli-arms-factory%C2%A0-oldham
- Activists stage protest at Oldham weapons factory: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-55891683?at_custom4=A0DAE8EA-64B9-11EB-B631-EA794D484DA4&at_custom2=twitter&at_custom3=Regional+BBC+North+West&at_medium=custom7&at_custom1=link&at_campaign=64
- Palestine Action and Extinction Rebellion activists shut down Israeli arms factory: https://mondoweiss.net/2021/02/palestine-action-and-extinction-rebellion-activists-shut-down-israeli-arms-factory/?amp
- Ministry of Defence signs £102 million contract with Elbit Systems UK for “sensor-to-shoot” system: https://www.army-technology.com/news/uk-mod-orders-elbit-detect-and-destroy-system/
- Elbit surveillance technology for Israel’s aparthied wall: https://www.facing-finance.org/en/database/cases/elbit-systems-surveillance-system-torch-for-the-separation-barrier-in-israelpalestine/
- Role of Elbit drone in killing of four children paying on Gaza beach in 2014: https://theintercept.com/2018/08/11/israel-palestine-drone-strike-operation-protective-edge/
- More on Elbit’s drones in Gaza: https://corporatewatch.org/elbit-systems-company-profile-2/
- The role of Elbit’s drones in the militarization of Britain’s borders: https://privacyinternational.org/news-analysis/4124/dear-home-secretary-channel-crossings-are-already-inviable-asylum-seekers-and
Police targeting of human rights activists
- Huda Ammori’s statement on Richard Barnard’s arrest: https://twitter.com/Pal_action/status/1357046957492080640
- Video of Richard Barnard’s arrest: https://twitter.com/Pal_action/status/1357090627649945602
- UK turns to “counterterror” law to repress Palestine Action: https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/uk-turns-counterterror-law-repress-palestine-action
Donate towards the numerous devices confiscated from activists by police: https://palestineaction.org/donate/