Australian anti-drone activists had a somewhat cooler day of action than their fellow protesters in the UK as they wrapped up warmly outside the Elbit Systems factory in Melbourne with a message to stop trading arms with Israel. The protest marks the first anniversary of ‘Protective Edge’ where Israel attacked the Gaza Strip killing and severely injuring many civilians leaving some without homes and businesses destroyed in the fierce bombardment. Human Rights groups have condemned strongly the use of drones and allege Israel is carrying out “war crimes”. The action was part of a joint campaign effort with London Palestine Action who planned to shut down 3 factories in the UK, see following link,
Block the Factory, Stop Arming Israel,
Australian Press Release, Melbourne Palestine Action Coalition (MPAC)
July 6, 2015
For Immediate Release
Pro-Palestinian activists shut down Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, on anniversary of Israel’s ‘Protective Edge’ assault on GAZA.
NOTE: This action is currently ongoing at 235 Ingles St Port Melbourne.
At 8am members of the Melbourne Palestine Action Coalition (MPAC) shut down the headquarters of Israeli arms manufacturer, ELBIT SYSTEMS, at 235 Ingles St Port Melbourne to mark the first anniversary of the 2014 Israeli ‘Protective Edge’ assault on Gaza. The group have blockaded access to the building and currently have two people locked on to the entrance gate, who state that they are prepared to remain there as long as possible. This is the second time the pro-Palestinian group has disrupted Elbit Systems, the first time being in August 2014 when they occupied the building’s roof and blockaded the entrance to Elbit during the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza. (see more photos of the previous action )
MPAC spokesperson Kat Moore explains:
“This blockade is part of an International campaign to shut down Elbit Systems and coincides with events in London later today, to mark the anniversary of the deadly assault on GAZA last year. We are here today to demand the Australian Government end military trade deals with Israel and cancel all domestic contracts with Elbit Systems. We, like many other groups around the world, call on the UN and all governments to take immediate steps to implement a comprehensive and legally binding military embargo on Israel.”
Elbit Systems is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of unmanned aerial drones used by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in their ongoing siege and frequent military offensives in Gaza. MPAC are also targeting the arms manufacturer over domestic contracts with the Australian military and federal police. The group claim the Australian government have awarded 185 procurement contracts to Elbit Systems since 2007 totaling $704,728,650* of Australian tax payer dollars, during a period which saw the most egregious crimes against the Palestinian people in the near 50-year illegal Israeli occupation of their lives and territories, including;
2008/2009 Operation ‘Cast Lead’;
2012 Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’;
2014 Operation ‘Protective Edge’”
MPAC spokesperson Sam Castro stated:
“Israel’s ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world, one of the most vigorous funders being the Australian Government. By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel’s military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity”
In the final report from the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, issued on June 22, 2015, the UN state “serious violations of international humanitarian law” that “may amount to war crimes” and that “impunity prevails across the board” regarding the actions of Israeli forces in Gaza”.
UN Representative for the report, Ms. McGowan Davis, hopes the report will persuade governments to address “the crying need” for changes in policies regarding the use of weapons with a wide-area effect in densely populated areas. The commission said that “the scale of the devastation was unprecedented” in Gaza, where it counted 2,251 Palestinian deaths and 18,000 homes destroyed.
MPAC spokesperson Sam Castro stated
‘This is just the beginning of a global campaign to stop the war profiteering of private corporations off the people of Palestine and others around the world. Israel’s military technology is marketed as “field-tested” and exported across the world. Military trade and joint military-related research relations with Israel embolden Israeli impunity in committing grave violations of international law and facilitate the entrenchment of Israel’s system of occupation, colonization and systematic denial of Palestinian rights.
Shut Down Elbit Systems Australia posted a series of Facebook messages detailing their progress and posted photographs as follows,
“We have locked down Elbit Systems on eve of first anniversary of Israel’s ‘Protective Edge’ assault on Gaza”
“We are 3.5 hours in to the lock down of Elbit in Melbourne and staying strong in the freezing weather.”
Philip Essaitchgeethree said that there were twin actions in Melbourne and London to shut down Elbit “because Israeli drones killing Palestinians is not ok. And we won’t let these killers get away with it.” He requested anyone interested to join them at the factory and stated,
“we have shut down Elbit today .. serious business with seriously awesome people. 5 hours in and our two locked on legends CJ Wallace and Agnes Prest are still blocking the gates… with fire!
Elbit systems weapons are used on the Palestinian people, yet the Australian government have $700 million in contracts. Not in my name!”
Aussie activists tweeted, Block the Factory is happening! Across the UK and internationally!
Shenstone / Birmingham (UK) Elbit Systems – closed
Broadstairs, Kent (UK) Elbit Systems – closed
Tamworth, Staffordshire (UK) Elbit Systems – closed
Melbourne (Australia) Elbit Systems – closed
Carol AnneGrayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.