Following on from more than a dozen direct action protests against Elbit Systems in the past few weeks, Palestine Action‘s occupation of the ‘UAV Engines’ plant (one of Elbit’s subsidiaries) in Shenstone, Staffordshire is the most disruptive yet.
Elbit’s UK factories make parts for Israeli drones which are used, say the campaigners, in war crimes against civilians in Gaza. The drones are also sold to India for use in Kashmir.
Despite serious disruption and damage at Elbit’s factories and offices, there has not yet been a single prosecution. After some actions, police told protesters they were free to leave, and on the occasions when there were arrests, prosecution cases were mysteriously dropped before going to court.
Campaigners believe this is because Elbit has a complex relationship with the UK and Israeli governments and that the scrutiny of their arms exports licenses and other documents in court might uncover illegal and criminal activity.
To test this theory, this network of existing groups and individual campaigners have embarked on an escalating series of actions, culminating in the occupation at UAV in the early hours of Monday morning.
Three people locked on in front of gates were eventually cut free and arrested by yesterday evening, but despite smashing windows, CCTV cameras, lighting, air conditioners and other building infrastructure within sight of police, the five remaining activists continued their protest overnight and throughout today.
So the factory is closed for a second full day, and some of the damage may mean that it has to remain non-operational for some time. Will Elbit face the protesters in court, or will this action be effectively ignored as before? Real Media contacted Elbit for comment but have yet to receive any response.
More info at PalestineAction.org