[News] Protests close four UK factories owned by Israeli arms firm Elbit

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jul 6 11:55:04 EDT 2015


  Protests close four factories owned by Israeli arms firm Elbit

Hilary Aked <https://electronicintifada.net/people/hilary-aked> Activism 
and BDS Beat <https://electronicintifada.net/blog/activism-and-bds-beat> 
6 July 2015
*https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/hilary-aked/protests-close-four-factories-owned-israeli-arms-firm-elbit*

Protesters today shut down four different factories owned by Israel’s 
biggest arms company, Elbit Systems 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/elbit>. The protests mark the 
one-year anniversary of the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza.

Police issued an injunction against protests at one of three UK sites, 
a drone engine factory near Shenstone, Staffordshire. Despite this, 
a number of activists have been locked-on at UAV Engines Limited 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/uav-engines-limited> (UEL) since 
early this morning, blocking the road and entrance to the factory. 
Hundreds of Palestine solidarity campaigners are supporting them. Police 
have made at least 10 arrests.

Also in the UK, production has been halted at Elbit’s Elite KL factory 
<http://www.elitekl.co.uk/military/> in Tamworth, Staffordshire. A third 
Elbit-owned factory called Instro Precision 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/instro-precision> in Broadstairs, 
Kent, has also been shut down. Activists are protesting on the roof of 
both factories.

A similar occupation took place in Melbourne, Australia 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/australia>.

The activists accuse the company of complicity in Israel’s alleged war 
crimes in Gaza.

Amnesty International 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/amnesty-international> research 
into the UEL factory 
<http://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/press-release-me-let-me-go/gaza-are-israels-pilotless-drones-powered-british-made-engines> has indicated 
that components made in the factory, engines for armed unmanned aerial 
vehicles (UAVs, or drones), were used in Israel’s 2008-2009 attack on 
Gaza. Code-named “Operation Cast Lead,” this attack killed 1,400 
Palestinians in Gaza.

The UEL factory is known to export its drone engines to Israel.

The Shenstone and Broadstairs factories have been targeted by protesters 
before. At the height of Israel’s 51-day assault last year, nine 
protesters staged a sit-in on the roof of the UEL factory 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/uk-activists-shut-factory-demand-israel-arms-embargo>, 
closing it for two days in August before they were arrested. Rooftop 
protesters shut down the Instro Precision factory in Kent for a day in 
February 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/israeli-drone-maker-elbit-targeted-uk-activists-close-second-factory>, 
with no arrests made.

According to a police statement by the Shenstone factory’s general 
manager, seen by The Electronic Intifada in February 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/case-dropped-against-protesters-who-cost-elbit-drone-parts-factory-280000#cliff>, the 
protesters’ action cost the company £186,000 (almost $280,000) in lost 
revenue.

Yet charges of “aggravated trespass” were later dropped by the Crown 
Prosecution Service 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/case-dropped-against-protesters-who-cost-elbit-drone-parts-factory-280000> 
just hours before a deadline set by the court for the prosecution to 
release critical documents. The evidence to be disclosed related to arms 
export licences granted to UEL to send its hi-tech engines to Israel for 
use in the Hermes <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/hermes> 450 drone.

The dropping of the case left Elbit factories in the UK open to direct 
action such as is taking place today. Adie Mormech 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/adie-mormech>, one of the 
Shenstone nine, said in February that it was a “green light for further 
action” by activists against the factory.


    Solidarity with Palestinians

Elly Hassan, from London Palestine Action 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/london-palestine-action>, one of 
the groups coordinating today’s “Block the Factory” actions, said: 
“These Israeli-owned factories are very much a part of Israel’s brutal 
regime of apartheid and settler-colonialism over the Palestinian people.”

“Israel was only able to massacre thousands in Gaza last summer because 
factories like these are allowed to operate and because governments such 
as the UK government continue to allow arms exports to Israel,” she 
explained.

“People have come here from all over the country to show their 
solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and 
equality and to demand that the UK government imposes a two-way military 
embargo on Israel,” she continued. ”We urge people that share our 
opposition to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people to join the 
growing movement for a boycott of Israel.”

Last summer in Gaza Israel killed more than 2,200 Palestinians including 
551 children 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/balance-un-gaza-report-cant-hide-massive-israeli-war-crimes>. 
The 2014 assault, which Israel code named “Operation Protective Edge 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/operation-protective-edge>,” also 
left approximately 11,000 people injured, including 1,000 children left 
with permanent disabilities. An estimated 18,000 homes were destroyed or 
severely damaged, making 100,000 people homeless.


    “Business as usual”

During the bombing, arms sales to Israel became a topic of intense 
political scrutiny in the UK. Conservative government minister Sayeeda 
Warsi <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/sayeeda-warsi> quit her post 
in the cabinet, calling the UK government’s stance “morally indefensible.”

A report called “Arming Apartheid,” released last week 
<http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/britain-still-arming-israel-despite-fear-weapons-will-be-used-against-gaza-10357621.html> 
by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/campaign-against-arms-trade>, War 
on Want <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/war-want> and the Palestine 
Solidarity Campaign 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/palestine-solidarity-campaign>, found 
that fresh arms exports to Israel worth nearly £4 million ($6.2 million) 
- including components for drones - were approved by Britain within 
weeks of the attack.

These deals show that despite Israel’s alleged war crimes, the 
government’s attitude to the arms trade with Israel is “business as 
usual,” they said.

The action also marks ten years since the launch of the boycott, 
divestment and sanctions movement that pressures Israel to comply with 
international law. In the UK, the movement is backed by major UK trade 
unions, the Green Party 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/green-party-england-and-wales> and 
the National Union of Students 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/national-union-students>.

Recent successes include the announcement by Orange 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/boycott-hit-orange-may-dump-israeli-partner-mid-2017> 
that it intends to leave the Israeli market and the news that foreign 
direct investment into Israel has dropped by almost 50 percent last year 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/foreign-investment-israel-plummets-half-gaza-massacre>, 
partly due to the growth of the boycott movement.

-- 
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