Direct action shuts down operations at Israel-linked arms factory in Leicester

Palestine Action protesters in Leicester

On 19 May, direct-action network Palestine Action occupied an arms factory in Leicester for the first time. This belonged to UAV Tactical Systems, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems. The latter is Israel’s biggest private arms company; and it manufactures drones that Israeli occupation forces use against Palestinians.

The action comes amid the Israeli state’s latest attack on occupied Gaza. Israeli forces have killed 227 people so far, including 64 children; and Gaza’s response has killed 12 people, including two children. Occupation forces have also bombed numerous civilian buildings in Gaza. Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has called out the state’s actions as war crimes.

Palestine Action: ‘We have the power, and the duty, to act’

In a press release, Palestine Action explained:

Over the past week, Elbit’s lethal sites have benefitted from round-the-clock police [and private security] protection in the wake of escalating Israeli aggression in Gaza and the occupied territories.

But it added that this policing had not managed to prevent its action, saying:

Activists have scaled the roof, locked the factory gates, and are preventing access and stopping the production of deadly arms.

The group also insisted:

it is entirely within our power to stop the production of brutal machinery which is fuelling war crimes in Palestine. …

It is the duty of anyone who has been rightly appalled by these atrocities to stand up and take action, to prevent the Israeli war machine receiving any more armaments produced in this country.

One protester told the BBC:

Ultimately, the goal is to not have these sorts of companies in the UK.

Firefighters in Leicester, meanwhile, expressed their solidarity with Palestine and the right to protest:

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