Palestine Action shutdown of Israel-linked arms factory moves into its third day

Palestine Action protesters in Leicester on 21 May

Protesters have now managed to shut down an arms factory with links to the Israeli apartheid state for three days running.

On 19 May, direct-action network Palestine Action occupied an arms factory in Leicester for the first time. This site belongs 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 started amid the Israeli state’s latest attack on occupied Gaza. As a ceasefire begins on 21 May, the number of people whom Israeli forces killed in the blockaded territory stands at 257, including 66 children. Gaza’s response killed 12 people in Israel, including two children. Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has accused the state of committing war crimes during its offensive.

‘Until the end of Israel’s illegal occupation’

Palestine Action said in a press release that police negotiators in Leicester were trying to argue that the protest should now end because of the ceasefire. But as a spokesperson for the group insisted:

Our activism does not stop when Israel stops dropping bombs. It stops when the illegal occupation and systematic brutalisation of the Palestinians stop. Elbit supplies not only Israel’s murderous drones, but also the surveillance hardware, fortified security walls, and police technology which makes daily life for Palestinians insufferable. This ‘ceasefire’… will mean only a return to the status quo. Our activism will not stop. In fact, it has hardly even begun. Direct action will continue until we have completely shut Elbit down, and until Palestinians are no longer denied their basic human rights.

Other actions targeting Elbit have also taken place in Shenstone, Staffordshire, and at the London HQ of Elbit’s landlords, LaSalle.

Local solidarity

Many people, meanwhile, continue to show solidarity with the Palestine Action protesters. The group said:

Of hundreds of members of the local community who have turned out in solidarity with the activists, two arrests were made yesterday evening. These two supporters were arrested for “aiding and abetting aggravated trespass” after throwing food and water to those occupied the site. This came after the police denied them any water, violating their duty of care to do so.

Authorities later released these protesters “with no further action”. But police have reportedly been intimidating protesters in other ways too:

However, as Palestine Action said:

The occupation continues to have sizable numbers of Leicester residents turning out in support, with another convoy of cars showing support yesterday and local businesses arriving to provide free meals to those outside the gates.

Main article via Palestine Action