Starting in March 2021, Palestine Action began a series of rooftop occupations of a factory in Tamworth – Elite KL – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems, the Israeli arms manufacturer.

The Elite KL factory was manufacturing cooling and power management systems for military vehicles, as used by the IDF in the occupied territories.

Over the course of a year, activists repeatedly visited the site and sprayed blood-red paint and smashed CCTV and windows. In February 2022 they dismantled large areas of tiled roof, closing the building for weeks, and then they returned a month later, despite increased security, to further decommission the site.

By the end of that year, the company reported its operating profits had fallen by around 75%, hit by the extra costs of increased security as well as supply chain costs, and it was sold to a private equity fund.

The transfer deal was finally completed last month, and Palestine Action have now received an email directly from the new owners which states:

“the newly appointed board has unanimously agreed to withdraw from all future defence contracts and terminate its association with its former parent company [Elbit]”.

Rishi Sunak claims that UK arms exports licences are granted in accordance with international law, but activists have been highlighting the use of UK-manufactured Elbit weaponry against civilians in Gaza (long before the current genocide), and in the face of government indifference, their direct action campaign has so far closed down Elbit’s London office and the Elbit-Ferranti factory in Oldham. Now a third site has been added to that list.

Despite the enormous damage to Elbit’s business since Palestine Action’s launch in 2020, there have been relatively few trials, and of those there have been several jury acquittals. Although some of the activists arrested at various Elite KL actions may yet face trial, some have had charges dropped, and others have received minimal sentences.

In the four years since the group’s inception, some Palestine Actionists have been found guilty of criminal charges resulting from actions to stop the trade in weapons to Israel, and several are currently in prisons under harsh sentences.

The government is also making it harder to mount legal defences – a recent High Court ruling limits ‘lawful excuse’ even further. This is thought to be mainly a response to climate activism, but equally hinders those who challenge the arms trade in actions and in court.

Co-founders of Palestine Action faced a major trial along with others in November, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict and they walked free. They will now face another jury in 2025 under the new rules which the Attorney General has pushed for, and next time they will have less opportunity to mount a legal defence.

Despite the draconian clampdown on protest, this week’s news is an indication that committed direct action can work, and with signs that even the powerful countries of the Global North are wavering in their support for Israel’s genocidal rampage, there may yet come a day when Elbit is no longer welcome here.