In the early hours of yesterday morning 18th January, three activists sprayed blood-red paint across the courtyard and onto the premises of UAV Engines Ltd at Shenstone in the Midlands, then locked arms through a heavy block to prevent work from starting at the factory.
UAV Systems manufacture parts for drones used by the Israeli military and the campaigners believe that their protests are lawful because they accuse Elbit Systems of manufacturing and supplying equipment used to commit war crimes in Gaza and elsewhere.
Their action prevented access for several hours before they were arrested, and the protest was the third one at this Elbit Systems subsiduary in five months since the launch of the Palestine Action network.
Several activists from Palestine Action are awaiting trial for occupying the roof of the Shenstone factory last September and allegedly causing nearly half a million pounds worth of damage, but the only previous court case involving Elbit (for a similar occupation in 2014) was dropped at the last moment when Elbit company managers refused to produce documents and testify and against the nine people on trial.
Shortly after the launch of Palestine Action, the Israeli Defence and Strategic Affairs ministers met with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and asked the British government to work against what they framed as the “delegitimisation” of Israeli weapons manufacturing in the UK.
Since then, there have been dozens of actions against Elbit Systems and their landlord, La Salle Investment Management, but activists still await their day in court. Instead, the group say that they have had their campaign disrupted by several police raids, they’ve been harassed while travelling, legal observers have been pepper sprayed by UK police, and more than £5000 worth of computers and phones have been seized.
Despite all this, Palestine Action is a growing movement and they say they will not stop their “vital work” until all ten of Elbit’s UK locations are shut down for good.