On Tuesday morning, four Palestine Action activists attempted to spray the entrance to the London HQ of Elbit Systems with blood-red paint, and then prevent access through the use of lock-ons. The office in Kingsway has been targeted many times before.
On this occasion, a violent and reckless private security guard wrestled with one woman, pulled a young male from height on a set of ladders, and attacked a completely peaceful young woman in the middle of a press interview. She was sitting on top of a set of step ladders with a D-lock attached round her neck, but the security guard, who was wearing no identification or accreditation, pulled the ladder over.
One young man was immediately arrested. Two of the group managed to lock-on through a pipe and sat across the doorway, and the woman ended up on her back on the ground with her neck still attached to the ladder.
After more than four hours of blockade, a police removal team freed the remaining protesters and they were arrested too.
All four were later released on a bail condition that they do not carry any paint.
Two days before, nine activists stormed the main operations office in Bristol. The action followed the shooting of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh at the hands of Israeli soldiers on May 11th, and was timed in solidarity with Nakba Day, 15th May.
In 1948, the military occupation of Palestine by Western-backed Israeli military saw the displacement of almost three-quarters of a million Arabic people, and their loss of the right to return. Nakba means ‘catastrophe’ or ‘disaster’ and describes the destruction of the Palestinian society and homeland. In response to Israel’s Day of Independence, Nakba Day is commemorated each year by Palestinians around the world, with silent vigils, strikes, marches and protests.
After spraying the Elbit building with blood-red paint and smashing several windows, some of the activists gained access and barricaded themselves in an office, dismantling IT equipment and damaging the building.
After their arrest, despite the fact that five of the group had never been arrested before, in an unusual step the Crown Prosecution Service successfully appealed bail conditions, and all nine (including two dissident Israeli activists) have been held on remand.
Part of the CPS argument was simply the success of the campaign, which they admit resulted in the closure of Elbit’s Oldham site, one of five (now four) arms factories across the country. The CPS is however yet to secure a conviction in any case brought against the group, despite more than 18 months of action disrupting Elbit’s weapons trade. A major trial was scheduled last May, but was postponed at the last minute.
Lawyers will be appealing the detention of the activists at Bristol Crown Court tomorrow.