In December, a Crown Court jury was unable to reach verdicts over multiple charges following a six-week trial of eight Palestine Action activists. Two women were acquitted of all charges.
The Crown Prosecution Service were back at Snaresbrook Court today demanding a retrial, and the six remaining defendants are now set to face another six-week trial in June of 2025 in front of the same judge, Gerard Pounder.
ICMYI watch our interviews with the Elbit Eight on the day they walked free from Snaresbrook Court.
Palestine Action’s main focus has been to try and expose the crimes of Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems, and shut them down. Since the group’s formal launch in 2019, their protests have spread to include businesses in Elbit’s supply chain as well as landlords of Elbit sites.
At the start of 2022, after an eighteen-month sustained campaign, including an occupation which police said caused around half a million pounds worth of damage, the group claimed a spectacular success in the closure of a weapons factory in Oldham which was a partnership between Elbit and Ferranti.
Later the same year, after multiple direct action protests at Elbit’s London HQ in Kingsway, that too appears to have closed down, with operations moved to Bristol.
Last month, landlord Fisher German announced they were breaking ties with Elbit, and web designers Naked Creativity also dropped Elbit as their client. Elbit’s recruitment agency iO Associates also confirmed they would no longer advertise Elbit jobs.
A plan to blockade the London Stock Exchange at the start of this week was disrupted by arrests the day before after a reporter from the corporate Daily Express tabloid had joined planning meetings posing as a Palestine supporter and then handed over information to the police.
The police are, quite rightly, supposed to follow guidelines to avoid entrapment. This is partly to ensure justice is served and no crimes are ‘encouraged’, but also to prevent any prosecution being undermined. It’s questionable whether a Daily Express ‘journalist’ has the necessary training or ethical objectives in mind, or in fact whether this interference may hamper a potential prosecution. Last year, Real Media covered the trial of ‘Burning Pink’ activists who had painted various NGO offices and political party HQs. They were all almost all acquitted, despite or possibly because of the evidence of a Green Party official who had similarly infiltrated their network and then gone to the police – questions were raised about missing sections of video evidence that suggested some element of entrapment. Out of twenty charges, there were eighteen acquittals, with a hung jury and no verdict on the remaining two.
Unswayed by the arrests at the weekend, on Tuesday morning activists smashed glass, sprayed blood-red paint and left slogans on the London and Glasgow offices of new landlords Mileway, who have taken over the management of the UAV Engines factory in Shenstone.
This followed actions by other groups against Barclays in Manchester and Birmingham the previous day over their huge portfolio of investments and loans in Israeli arms companies.
The offices of another investment company BNY Mellon was stormed and occupied in Manchester, over their $13 million investment in Elbit.
In London, Palestine Action activists also sprayed the offices of the Canadian Scotia Bank which is the largest foreign shareholder in Elbit Systems.
Yesterday, activists revealed overnight actions on a Milton Keynes industrial site at a company called Palletline which provides logistics and transportation to Elbit’s UAV-Tactical Systems (U-TacS) drone technology factory in Leicester, and at the offices of their London subsidiary and insurer Nacora Agencies.
Another company providing logistical transport to U-TacS is Palletine, and one of their sites in Glasgow was visited by Scottish activists who broke some windows and sprayed messages such as “Drop Elbit” and “Free Palestine”.
At Bristol Crown Court, a four-week trial began last week against seven activists accused of burglary and criminal damage. Their action took place at Elbit’s Bristol office on Nakba Day in May of 2022, just a few days after Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered by IDF soldiers.
Nine people were arrested and placed on remand at the time, two of them Israeli dissidents who remained in prison for a month and then released with electronic monitoring. Only seven are currently on trial together, with the other two cases heard separately. The action forced the offices to close down as they occupied office and meeting rooms and dismantled the property inside. Walls were painted and marked with ‘Palestine Action’, ‘Free Palestine’, ‘Shut Elbit Down’ and ‘Elbit=Nakba’ written in Hebrew.
As Palestinians face bombing, blockade, famine, the collapse of the healthcare system, as well as constant raids and snatches of hostages outside of judicial supervision in the West Bank, the direct action campaign against companies and corporations who support and enable Israel’s onslaught looks like growing despite repression, arrests and trials.
——————-UPDATE 19th Jan——————–
THE WEEK OF ACTION CONTINUES:
Yesterday four Palestine Action activists locked on to each other across the entrance to Elbit’s headquarter office in Bristol. They were supported by local people including the ‘Rise Up For Palestine’ group. Specialist police teams had to be brought in to release the lock-ons and regains access to the site. Elbit’s weaponry is advertised as ‘battle-tested’ – their drones are widely used by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza and the occupied territories, not only for surveillance but for remote killing.
Recent reports claim that anyone approaching or trying to leave the barely-functioning Al-Aqsa hospital is being shot at by Israeli drones and quadcopters, which are also preventing the rescue of casualties. The Al-Aqsa is an important integrative care centre serving a quarter of a million people including several large refugee camps. Around two-thirds of Gaza’s hospitals are now out of action as Israel continues to bombard health infrastructure and even arrest multiple medical staff. Last weekend Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) both announced their withdrawal of staff from Al-Aqsa due to “increased military activity”.
Yesterday, a Bristol Palestine Action spokesperson says “Disrupting Israel’s military supply chain through direct action and community mobilisation is a crucial and necessary tactic to deploy as our Palestinian siblings are under fire by Elbit’s weaponry. We do not stand for genocide enablers on our doorstep, and we’ve once again made it clear that Elbit is not welcome in Bristol or anywhere on British soil. We will continue to rise up and take the power back into our own hands to shut down the companies arming Israel’s genocide of Palestine.“
Four people arrested in connection with the Bristol blockade were released from police custody yesterday evening.
The trial at Bristol Crown Court is adjourned next week and continues from 11am on Monday 29th January.