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:
Fire Brigades Union @fbunational statement on their refusal to cooperate with police operation to remove Palestine Action activists from the roof of Israel's arms factory in #Leicester.— Palestine Action (@Pal_action) May 19, 2021
This is direct action. This is solidarity. The occupation continues #ShutElbitDown pic.twitter.com/HvbNtaFt2n
The Fire Brigade have now officially left the scene. Global solidarity at work as @LeicsFBU join the ranks of the Italian dockworkers, Palestinian general strikers, and Palestine Action in expressing their solidarity through action #DirectActionGetsTheGoods https://t.co/xgqrBZPvyy— Palestine Action (@Pal_action) May 19, 2021
Main article image via screenshot