Three activists arrested after blockading drone factory

Aug 17, 2021

  • Palestine Action activists have been arrested after blockading the entrances to the Elbit UAV Tactical Systems drone factory in Leicester, having locked themselves to gates
  • The factory – used to produce Israel’s Hermes combat and surveillance drones – was targetted by Palestine Action for the second time, with the May occupation of the site lasting 6 days. The factory remains closed after this morning’s action.
  • One of the activists arrested at the site also took part in the May occupation of the factory, having been told last week that he would face no charges for that action.

Palestine Action have returned to Elbit System’s drone factory in Braunstone Town, Leicester, and have once again disrupted the production of killer drones used for repressive purposes by Israeli forces. The factory – ran by Elbit-Thales joint venture UAV Tactical Systems – has been blockaded by Palestine Action activists. Two activists in a ‘lock-on’ and one activist who had D-locked their body to gates have been arrested, after placing their bodies in the way of Elbit’s drone manufacture operations.

The previous occupation of the Leicester site – from May 19th-25th – was Palestine Action’s longest continuous action so far, with the action carried on by local residents who turned out in support. After police removed activists from the roof, protestors refused to allow police vans to leave by chaining the gates shut – extending the occupation and preventing Elbit operations. Furthermore, after having been asked to contibute to police protestor removal operations, the Fire Brigades Union ordered their men stood down in solidarity with protestors and the Palestinian people.

One of the activists who took part in that 6 day occupation, 19 year old Ethan, has returned to the site for the blockade today, after having been told last week that he would face no charges for this previous action. Ethan, and the other activists arrested at the factory, have put their bodies and liberties on the line to directly undermine the manufacture of weaponry and military technology for Israel and other repressive military regimes.

A month after the 11 day onslaught on Gaza, and our original occupation of Leicester factory, Israel held a “multinational drone drill” with nations including Britain to show how effective their drones are. These drones are built in Britain, used in Gaza, and then – after being “battle tested” and used for war crimes, they’re demonstrated to foreign militaries and sold to the international market.

The Hermes 450 drones manufactured in Elbit’s Leicester factory have been deployed regularly by Israeli forces in their bombardments, surveillance and assaults on Gaza. Elbit & UAV Tactical Systems hold active export licenses with the UK government to ship their murderous drones to Israel. Recently, these drones have been also been sold and deployed for the purposes of internal repression in Myanmar, while UAV Tactical Systems also handle the manufacture of the UK MIlitary, Police and Border Force’s Watchkeeper drones – used to surveil, monitor, and control citizens of the UK, refugees, and civilians in foreign countries.


Palestine Action

Palestine Action is a direct-action network of groups and individuals formed with the mandate of taking direct action against Elbit Systems’ UK locations at grassroots level, calling for them all to be shut down and for the British government to end its complicity in Israeli apartheid.
Activist Ethan on why he takes action against Elbit Systems:
Coverage of our previous occupation of Elbit’s Leicester factory:

Elbit Systems
Role of Elbit drone in killing of four children paying on Gaza beach in 2014:
More on the death and destruction inflicted by Elbit’s drones upon Gaza:
Elbit surveillance technology for Israel’s apartheid wall:
UK Ministry of Defence signs £102 million contract with Elbit Systems UK for “sensor-to-shoot” system: