[News] Israel's leading arms dealer is running scared

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jun 21 16:46:45 EDT 2022


middleeastmonitor.com
<https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220621-israels-leading-arms-dealer-is-running-scared/>
Israel's leading arms dealer is running scared
Yvonne Ridley

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June 21, 2022

It must be rather humiliating when you claim to be a world leader in
security and surveillance systems but have your own headquarters breached
frequently by a disparate group of angry citizens armed with nothing more
than red paint and innovative ideas about peaceful resistance to a brutal
military occupation enabled by your company's products. That is the dilemma
facing Elbit Systems UK, Israel's largest private arms manufacturer and
dealer, which has been forced to quit its prestigious London headquarters
for the city of Bristol in the south-west of England. Israel's leading arms
dealer is running scared.

The retreat from the British capital is indeed humiliating, and is yet
another major victory for Palestine Action, which claims that it was behind
the closure
<https://www.theoldhamtimes.co.uk/news/19840066.arms-firm-sells-part-oldham-business-months-protests/>
of the Elbit factory in Oldham in January. Elbit Systems UK announced that
it had sold Ferranti Technologies Power and Control business (Ferranti
P&C), based in Waterhead, to British company TT Electronics for £9 million.
PA activists had targeted the Ferranti Technologies site for 18 months,
making the continued operation of Elbit in Oldham unfeasible.

Despite these two victories, the activists in Palestine Action — many of
whom are already facing trial in Crown Courts around England on charges of
criminal damage — say that they will not stop until all of Elbit's
factories of death are closed for good.

Elbit is an Israel-owned international defence electronics company that is
"engaged in a wide range of homeland security and commercial programmes
around the world". That's the proud boast on its website and at arms fairs,
but the ugly reality is that many of its weapons have been battle-tested on
Palestinian civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip and elsewhere in occupied
Palestine.

As I wrote in *MEMO*
<https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220328-the-makers-of-israels-deadly-drones-continue-to-evade-british-justice/>
in March, one of the most heinous crimes Israel has carried out in recent
years took place in Gaza when four schoolboy cousins aged ten and eleven
years were killed as they played football on the beach in 2014. The war
crime — what else can you call a missile attack on children playing in the
sand? — unfolded in front of representatives of the world's media, who
witnessed the slaughter
<https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/17/world/middleeast/gaza-strip-beach-explosion-kills-children.html>
of the Bakr family boys.

We now know that the children were killed by missiles launched from an
armed drone
<https://theintercept.com/2018/08/11/israel-palestine-drone-strike-operation-protective-edge/>;
possibly even a drone containing parts manufactured in Britain. That is
just one of the reasons why activists belonging to Palestine Action target
drone factories in Britain owned by Elbit.

*READ: **The makers of Israel's deadly drones continue to evade British
justice
<https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220328-the-makers-of-israels-deadly-drones-continue-to-evade-british-justice/>*

I have tried to contact Elbit for a comment, but the company doesn't make
it easy as there's no phone number to find. Nevertheless, I left a polite
media request which, at the time of writing, had not received a response. I
asked why Elbit has quit its London HQ and is currently advertising jobs on
its website saying: "All the positions will be based full-time or with
alternative flexible arrangement from our offices in Bristol or home-based
(where the job allows)."

It's difficult to know if Elbit quit its Central London office voluntarily
or was told by the landlord to leave following complaints from other
tenants in the Kingsway office block. The final straw may well have come at
the start of this month when the pro-Palestine campaigners launched the
seventh attack on the HQ in under four weeks. While they were targeting the
London site, around a dozen other "red paint" operations were launched
across the country in the same period.

Police have arrested the activists on numerous occasions, but while some
trials have been abandoned other defendants have been acquitted on the
grounds that they committed a crime to prevent a greater crime: the
slaughter of innocents in Palestine. Elbit executives appear reluctant to
push for prosecutions; could that be because they would be required to give
evidence under oath about the weapons they make and how they have been and
still are used?

There are thought to be 20 other criminal cases in the pipeline emanating
from direct but peaceful action by members of the pro-Palestine group.
Understandably, the activists say that they would welcome their day in
court to explain why they've damaged Elbit property.

Palestine Action has made it abundantly clear that its members'
conscience-led vandalism won't stop until the UK-backed oppression of
Palestine ends. I have to admit that there's something rather pleasing
about the group's direct action and effective use of blood-red paint.

However, isn't it time for the police to stop acting as enforcers for the
Israeli arms dealer and start instead to ask more direct questions about
why these activists are prepared to risk their liberty to stop these
weapons from being made?

There are, without doubt, crimes being committed, but not by Palestine
Action. The activists' inspired and inspirational courage reminds me of my
youth in the turbulent, rebellious 70s, when the iconic rock band The
Clash, symbolising intelligent protest and stylish insurrection, had a hit
with the song "I fought the law and the law won". Perhaps the lyrics are
worth revisiting as a tribute to Palestine Action. How about: "We fought
the law and we won?"

Seriously though, has it ever occurred to the police that Elbit Systems is
reluctant to go to court and give evidence against the activists in case
their lawyers start asking awkward questions? It's blindingly obvious that
Elbit has something to hide, and yet it is hiding in plain view: its
products are used by an apartheid state
<https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution>;
apartheid is akin to a crime against humanity. Moreover, Israel is
committing war crimes on a daily basis in the occupied Palestinian
territories.

Sherlock Holmes might well have observed about Elbit that, "It has a grand
gift for silence," but that's not good enough. The full weight of the law
should not be focused on the activists of Palestine Action, but turned on
those who arm and enable Israel to conduct its brutal military occupation.
Elbit should be in the dock; not the activists of Palestine Action.

*READ: **London protests arms fair equipping Israel
<https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220125-london-protests-arms-fair-equipping-israel/>*

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not
necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.
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