In April, as part of a two year campaign of direct action against an Israeli weapons manufacturer, three activists from the Palestine Action network sprayed blood-red paint and locked on across the doorway of 77 Kingsway, the London office of Elbit Systems UK.
Watch Real Media’s original report here.
Yesterday and today the three appeared at Highbury Magistrates Court due to stand trial for criminal damage. But after a day and a half of legal wrangles, the case ended in an adjournment and a future date for further case management.
Next week’s long awaited crown court trial of eight activists including founders of Palestine Action has also just been postponed for more than a year.
If Elbit Systems UK is lawfully manufacturing and supplying defence equipment, and isn’t implicated in war crimes in illegally occupied territories, it would seem quite simple to take activists to court and convict for their actions, but despite millions of pounds of damage to property and lost business and even the closure of one of their factories in Oldham, to date the only conviction has been one of obstructing the highway. There have however been several acquittals, and many postponements.
Elbit Systems has a track record of backing out of trials, most notably in 2016, when they refused to produce documents in court.
It emerged in court this week that the Kingsway office building is actually owned by Coal Pension Property Ltd, based in the same London address as LaSalle, which has been targeted by Palestine Action in the past. A spokesperson for LaSalle refused to comment when contacted, citing the company’s ‘no-names’ policy ie. if you don’t know the name of someone at the company, no-one will speak to you.
During the court case, an un-named individual was allowed court-side. When their presence was challenged by defence barristers, they were identified as “taking notes for the corporate victim” (thought by activists to mean Elbit).
Back in 2020, the then Foreign Minister Dominic Raab met with Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Farkash-Hacohen and Defence Minister Benny Gantz and told them he was committed to stopping Palestine Action. Two years later, as trials get bumped, cases get dropped, and activists are acquitted, it seems the legal system is unable to prove that what Elbit Systems is engaged in is lawful and what Palestine Action is doing is not.