Pro-Palestinian activists claim for the second year in a row to have closed down an Elbit factory at Shenstone, Staffordshire where parts are produced for Israel’s military drone industry. There was similar action at additional sites owned by Israel’s biggest arms company Elbit Systems, they were Elbit’s Elite KL factory Tamworth, Staffordshire and at Instro Precision, Broadstairs, Kent which were also under occupation. Hundreds turned out for event despite an injunction being served for one of the sites. On the other side of the world, Australian protesters braved the cold weather in solidarity to shut down the Elbit drone factory in Melbourne, see Links section for separate article.
Campaigners are following on from the success of their 2014 campaign which saw protesters from London Palestine Action take over the rooftop at the Shenstone site and halt business for the day. See link for last year’s activities,
“Stop Arming Israel: Anti-drone protesters occupy Shenstone in solidarity with Gaza”
It is a now a year since a brutal Israel assault bombarded civilians in the Gaza Strip causing terrible injuries and significant loss of life in actions which many human rights groups allege are “war crimes”. Block The Factory website states, “according to the UN, during its attack on Gaza last summer, Israel killed over 2,200 Palestinians including more than 500 children. Approximately 11,000 people were injured, including 1,000 children left with permanent disabilities. An estimated 18,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged, making 100,000 people homeless.” The use of armed drones which inflict considerable “collateral damage” is supported by the UK government and protesters are repeating their call for Britain to “Stop Arming Israel”. A posting on the website read,
07:30 – BLOCK THE FACTORY GOES GLOBAL
Elbit Systems factories in Broadstairs Kent, Tamworth and Shenstone in Staffordshire, and Melbourne Australia are all under occupation or are blocked. Please follow the Twitter feed for more information.
The action begins
Elly Hassan, from London Palestine Action, one of the groups co-ordinating today’s ‘Block the Factory’ actions, said:
‘UK government data shows that drone engines manufactured here are exported to Israel. These Israeli-owned factories are very much a part of Israel’s brutal regime of apartheid and settler-colonialism over the Palestinian people.’
‘Israel was only able to massacre 2,200 Palestinians in Gaza last summer because factories like these are allowed to operate and because governments such as the UK government continue to allow arms exports to Israel.’
‘People have come here from all over the country to show their solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and to demand that the UK government imposes a two-way military embargo on Israel.’
‘Today in Shenstone we are transforming the space around the UEL arms factory, converting it from a site of destruction into a fun, creative and child-friendly environment. We’re creating a space that meets our needs and not the needs of Israeli and multinational corporations that export death for profit.’
‘We urge people that share our opposition to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people to join the growing movement for a boycott of Israel.’
Full statement can be read here,
Protesters lay on the roads to stop access to the factory site while others tied ribbons in remembrance of those killed in drone strikes.
Remembering the dead killed by drone strikes
Block the Factory tweeted,
Novara Wire have written an article detailing reasons why Elbit should be closed down, see following link,
“Stop Arming Israel 6 reasons to block the factory”
Yvonne Ridley tweeting from the site had a message for the drone factory stating,
If you sell Israeli drones we’ll close you down Elbit.
Police manhandled protesters and some arrests were made at the site
Chris Cole, who runs website Drone Wars UK, tweeted,
Took this before being arrested.
#blockthefactory. Currently being driven to police station. Tamworth?
Virginia Moffat Chief Operating Officer for Ekklesia think tank tweeted an update.
Chris has phoned from Tamworth. Doing Fine. Police moved people off the road and suddenly arrested him.
Although some activists were bundled off to the police station, they had made their presence felt
War Resisters Int’l tweeted
War on Want tweeted,
We’re calling for a two-way arms embargo of Israel, starting with Elbit’s killer drones
Just’d Murphy tweeted
Success in halting Elbit in Brazil
Campaigners in Brazil have had some welcome success halting business with the Elbit company through their demonstrations which will be encouraging to activists around the world. On 14th December, 2014, I reported the following,
“today, Rafeef Ziadah, Palestinian performance poet and activist tweeted to the world, ‘lets start the day with some good news: Major BDS win, Elbit Systems loses key Brazil deal over Palestine protests.’”
See “Elbit gets the elbow from Brazil pro Palestinian BDS protesters claim another success”
Gaza devastated by the 2014 attack by Israel
Joe Catron drew attention to the fact that despite the devastation caused to the people of Gaza however the UK government was continuing to support Israel, he tweeted,
Block the Factory tweeted,
Remember Gaza. Still locked onto gates of Broadstairs drone factory
War On Want tweeted a final reminder,
Now campaigners are waiting for the government to respond.
“Australia shuts down Elbit drone factory in Melbourne in a protest to stop trading arms with Israel.”
Carol Anne Grayson 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”.