Activists plead not guilty after occupying an Israeli arms factory in Oldham

Sep 2, 2021

  • Two activists appeared in court today, pleading ‘not guilty’ on charges relating to the February occupation of the Elbit Ferranti factory in Oldham, Greater Manchester
  • Standing at the plea hearing as ‘the accusers, not the accused’, the two activists have called for greater scrutiny into Elbit’s facilitation of war crimes and sales of arms which violate international arms embargoes. As such, when given the choice of facing trail in the Magistrates Court or in a Crown Court with a jury, the activists chose the latter.
  • Dozens of supporters gathered outside of the court today in solidarity with those inside
  • The February action held at the arms components and weapons technology factory in Oldham was undertaken collaboratively with Extinction Rebellion North

Two activists have appeared today in Tameside Magistrates Court, Ashton-Under-Lyme, for a plea hearing relating to charges of criminal damage for action taken at the Elbit Ferranti factory in Oldham, Greater Manchester. The activists have allegedly caused over £5,000 of damage to the site, but have entered the court room as ‘the accusers, not the accused’, citing Elbit’s violation of international law and their facilitation of war crimes as grounds for necessary action.

The activists were supported by dozens of protestors and supporters outside the crown court, who stood in solidarity with those taking the action necessary to end the production of arms technologies at the factory. The Oldham site is used for the manufacture of components and weapons technologies for Israeli helicopters and battle tanks, routinely deployed in assaults on Gaza.

The judge also set up a live-link for viewing of the hearing, due to public interest in the case. Given that activists will be using their time in the court to bring Elbit’s illegal and immoral business to light, when presented with the option of either a Magistrates Court trial or a Crown Court trial in front of a jury, they chose the latter. The Crown Court plea hearing date is set for 9:45am on the 7th October 2021, at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester.

The February action was undertaken collaboratively between Palestine Action and Extinction Rebellion North activists, with XR North representatives stating the following:

We stand resolutely against the apartheid and genocide of the Palestinian people, we will not accept an economy based on devastation, occupation and war. Our communities deserve and want a sustainable, fair and healthy future, for all people. We recognise the overlapping injustice and exploitation that reinforce the struggles so many of us face. Whether it’s poverty wages, obscene inequality, the destruction of our living world, or racist oppression.

There is a great need to join our voices together, to lift and strengthen our movements for root and branch change. We hope our collaboration with Palestine Action will help build a movement of movements, shut Elbit Systems down and be another step towards a better world.”

Only two of the eight activists involved in the action have been charged, with prosecution sought against those who had been involved in previous actions and protests. Further information on this case and other Palestine Action cases will be provided when available.


Notes to editors 

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.

Extinction Rebellion is an international apolitical network using non-violent direct action to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency. 

Coverage of the February occupation of the Oldham site: