Socialist Worker

Arms factory occupation and Palestine protests heap pressure on Cameron

by Adam Cochrane
Issue No. 2415

Palestine solidarity activists occupy Israeli-owned drone factory in Staffordshire

Palestine solidarity activists occupy Israeli-owned drone factory in Staffordshire (Pic: Geoff Dexter)


The occupation of an Israeli-owned drone factory in Staffordshire came to an end last night as police scaled the roof to arrest the protesters.

The occupation began around 5am on Tuesday morning when a group of campaigners from London Palestine Action descended on UAV Engines Limited. UAV builds engines for drones and is a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms company.

The protesters chained the factory gates closed and occupied the roof, unfurling a “UK: Stop Arming Israel” banner. They demanded the factory was closed down and all military aid to Israel stopped immediately.

The protesters remained defiant until the end chanting “brick by brick, wall by wall, Israeli apartheid’s gonna fall” as they were arrested and taken from the roof.

The police cordoned off the area around the factory. But on Tuesday and Wednesday people from the surrounding area came to show solidarity with the occupation.

Local activists protested outside Stafford Police station today, Thursday, demanding the release of the occupiers.

The occupation came in the midst of protests across Britain this week building up to major demonstrations this Saturday in London and Edinburgh.

Vigils were held in Lancaster, Barnstaple and Dudley attracting up to 300 people. A protest outside the BBC in Belfast was boosted by the appearance of hip hop group Public Enemy.

Solidarity

The strength of the solidarity movement has forced a number of councils around Britain to agree to fly the Palestinian flag over their council chambers – the latest being Glasgow City Council who will raise the flag tomorrow, Friday.

On Monday a Jewish woman burned her Israeli passport outside Downing Street in an emotional protest against Israel’s massacre in Gaza.

Other activists have organised mass leafleting of train stations, workplaces and mosques around Britain to build the biggest demonstrations possible and fill local transport.

Saturday’s demonstrations have the potential to heap further pressure on the British government. Tory prime minister David Cameron is looking more isolated on this issue.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has called for an arms embargo on Israel, as has the Scottish government. Tory minister Baroness Warsi resigned this week calling the government’s approach to Israeli attacks on Gaza “morally indefensible”.

Several Labour MPs have demanded that David Cameron recalls parliament over this issue.

Every activist needs to go all out and do everything they can to build Saturday’s demonstrations.

London: assemble 12pm BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place.
March to a rally in Hyde Park, via the US Embassy.
Edinburgh: assemble 2pm, Top of the Mound, EH1 1YZ.
Get more information at stopwar.org.uk and palestinecampaign.org

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