Palestine Action activists began an occupation of the UAV Tactical Systems factory in Leicester on Wednesday. The protest, which saw the building’s roof taken over, was against the pro-Israel policies of UAV’s parent company Elbit Systems.
In a statement released on behalf of the protesters, Palestine Action said, “Activists have taken direct action in response to Elbit’s funneling of arms to the Israeli occupation force, which is using them to commit war crimes in Gaza.
“This action occurs during ongoing and abhorrent violence by the Israeli state in Gaza and the occupied territories, This has killed over 200 people, including 61 children, and wounded over 1,500 in Gaza alone.
“The war crimes being committed rely on technology produced at Elbit sites across the UK.”
A range of local people including Socialist Workers supporters came down to the factory gates to cheer on the occupiers and chant in support of Palestine.
Local people working on the same industrial estate expressed their surprise when learning what goes on in the factory. Rolling off the production line are the Hermes drones, which are used to murderous effect selecting targets for the Israeli forces in Gaza.
The statement continued, “Today’s action shows that it is entirely within our power to stop the production of brutal machinery which is fuelling war crimes in Palestine.
“The past week has shown the relentless death and destruction that Israeli forces can and will inflict with UK-made munitions and military technology.
“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 from receiving any more armaments produced in this country.“
Police were turning vehicles away from the site all day as the action continued.
Later Palestine Action tweeted that “Fire engines on the ground to assist police, but the Leicester Fire Brigade Union are intervening to prevent their members removing activists and enabling Israel's arms production.”
This is just the latest part of a continuing campaign to expose the role that Elbit Systems plays in arming the Israelis and other repressive regimes.
Similar actions at other sites have seen charges against protesters dropped. Campaigners believe this shows how company representatives don’t want to be cross-examined about who their clients are and how their products are used for war and occupation.