UK pro-Palestine activists shut down 'Israel arms factory'

UK pro-Palestine activists shut down second Israeli arms factory in one month
3 min read
27 May, 2021
It's the second time pro-Palestine activists have targeted the same factory since March.
Protesters scaled and occupied the roof of Elbit's Elite KL site in Tamworth, Staffordshire, in the early hours of Tuesday [Credit: Vudi Xhymshiti]

Direct action from pro-Palestine activists in the UK have led to the temporary closure of another factory run by Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems.

Palestine Action protesters scaled and occupied the roof of the site in Tamworth, Staffordshire, in the early hours of Tuesday.

Photos shared on social media show activists waving Palestinian flags and the words "Elbit: Profiting from Death" spraypainted in red across a factory wall.

The site is run by Elbit's Elite KL brand in partnership with its sister company, Elbit Kinetics. The company builds computer systems, hardware, and other components for Israel’s Merkava 4 battle tank, which is used by the Israeli military.

Three protesters were arrested by police at 3pm but released eight hours later. The direct action, which is the second to target the same factory since March, came a day after the group ended its longest-ever occupation of a UK-based Elbit site, that of its subsidiary UAV Tactical Systems.

Leicester Police arrested the final two activists after a group of four scaled the factory roof at Meridian Business park - which manufactures drones used by the Israeli military - on 19 May.

Police made a total of ten arrests after hundreds gathered outside the facility in solidarity with the protesters. Some chained themselves to the factory gates and formed a human barricade to prevent police from arresting activists.

Huda Ammori, the group’s co-founder, told Metro that police had raided activists' homes, taking away "left wing pamphlets".

The group also claimed that some people were arrested for throwing water bottles toward the demonstrators on the roof of the factory after their supplies ran low.

Calls by The New Arab to Leicester Police department went unanswered at the time of publication.

Palestine Action describes itself as a network of groups and individuals formed with the mandate of taking direction against Elbit Systems facilities in the UK.

They are demanding the closure of their factories and the end of the UK government’s "complicity" in Israeli apartheid, according to their website.

On Thursday, the UN rights chief said the recent barrage of deadly air strikes on Gaza, which killed over 250 Palestinians, may have constituted war crimes.

Read more: Israel's attacks on Gaza may constitute 'war crimes': UN rights chief

Richard Barnard, co-founder of Palestine Action, praised the success of the group's most successful activism, which he said "shut down" the Elbit Systems factory for six days.

"In those six days Elbit can't produce these weapons,” Barnard told The New Arab.

He added that local solidarity actions were key for the group to achieve its aims.

"When the locals put themselves on the line, it fills us with hope. It's key to driving these evil arms companies out of the UK," he said.

Elbit has not responded to The New Arab’s request for comment.