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Israeli arms company Elbit forced to sell Tamworth site

A victory for direct action and the Palestine solidarity movement
3 people two holding Palestine flags with Palestine Action at the Elbit Tamworth site

Palestine Action at the Elbit site in Tamworth (Picture: Palestine Action)

Direct action for Palestine secured a success on Friday as Elbit Systems, part of Israel’s arms trade, was forced to sell its Elite KL factory in Tamworth, near Birmingham.

Alongside mass marches and other forms of action, it’s a sign of the power of the Palestine solidarity movement.

The company had previously manufactured cooling and power management systems for military vehicles. But it faced falling profits and increased security costs resulting from repeated Palestine Action efforts. 

After the sale was completed the site’s new owners, listed as Griffin Newco Ltd, told Palestine Action that they will have nothing to do with the previous owners, Elbit, and have discontinued any arms manufacturing.

Palestine Action said, “This victory is a direct result of sustained direct action which has sought to make it impossible for Elbit to afford to operate in Britain. 

“Before they sold the enterprise to a private equity syndicate, Elbit had reported that Elite KL operating profits had been slashed by over three-quarters, with Palestine Action responsible. Elbit directly cited the increased expenditure on security they’d been forced to make, and higher supply chain costs they faced.

The first action at the site, in November 2020, saw activists smash into the building covered in blood-red paint. 

Between March and July 2021, roof-top occupations put the site out of action three times. Despite increased security, another roof-top occupation in July saw the site closed.


In February 2022, activists decommissioned the site for weeks—closed off after an occupation that saw over £250,000 of damage.

After this, Elbit erected a security perimeter around the site. One month later, six people were arrested after occupying the roof and smashing through, preventing the production of parts for Israel’s military machine.

Elite KL is a “specialist thermal management business”. Since the sale, the company has focused on cooling systems for buses and trains, but it had, under Elbit, manufactured these systems for military vehicles. 

Until December of last year, Elite KL’s website was advertising its military and defence products, and it was known to provide parts for Israel’s Merkava tanks. Its export licence records demonstrate its provision of ML6a components for military ground vehicles to Israel. 

Elbit Systems itself provides 85 percent of the drones and land-based military equipment for the Israeli military, along with a wide range of the munitions and armaments currently being used against Gaza’s besieged population. 

Its chief executive, Bazhalel Machlis, claims the Israeli military offered the company its thanks for their “crucial” services during the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Huge marches, local protests, workplace walkouts, pickets of arms firms, direct action, student occupations and many other methods are all important in fighting Israel’s assaults on Gaza.


Calendar

  • National Demonstration: Ceasefire Now—Stop the Genocide in Gaza. This Saturday, 30 March, 12 noon, Russell Square, London WC1B 5LH, marching to Trafalgar Square. Go to scottishpsc.org.uk for events in Scotland
  • Palestine and the Unions—The Next Steps for the Movement Mon 15 April, 6.30pm. contact [email protected] for details and Zoom link
  • Workplace day of action, Wed 1 May

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