Palestine Action – Two months in to the resistance against UK complicity with apartheid

Sep 30, 2020

By Kieron Turner on behalf of Palestine Action

Two months on since the launch of Palestine Action and our message and popularity are beginning to worry those complicit with Israel’s apartheid regime. As our support has grown, so have the numbers of people and activists willing to take part in direct-action and protests against Elbit Systems, their crimes against humanity and those that continue to harbour them despite our demands. As we continue our actions to exposing and hold to account those embroiled in, and profiting from, the deep complicity between the UK and the colonial, apartheid occupation of Palestine by Israel, our support has continued to grow as well as the legitimacy and necessity of our struggle that continues to be exemplified. 

September began with a public protest outside of Israel’s London HQ offices at 77 Kingsway, advertised with a Bus stop Ad-hack across the road stating “Protest Shut Elbit Down: Saturday 5th September”. Activists and people from regions across the UK flocked to the protest including the Big Ride for Palestine, to articulate their continuing support for the Palestinian struggle as well as their opposition to the continued harbouring of Elbit Systems by the landlords Lasalle Investment Management. Despite the violent arrest of four Palestine Action activists by police, and their attempt to harass and shut down the protest, it was a successful protest, with slogans chanted such as “Shut Elbit Down!”, alongiside the waving of Palestinian flags and placards, with banners stating “Stop Arming Israel” and “Elbit Arms: Tested on Children”. All four arrested were released. 

The next action saw Palestine Action activists perform a banner drop outside the front Instro Precision, a subsidiary of Elbit System, at Discovery Park in Kent. The banners stating “Palestine Action” and “Elbit Arms: Tested on Children” were displayed proudly outside the gates and front doors, highlighting the complicity of the Discovery Park in allowing Elbit to continue to operate there. 

A week later, Palestine Action activists decided it was time to escalate. Activists occupied Elbit Systems UAV Shenstone Factory from floor-to-roof, with activists chained up outside the front gate, and activists occupying the roof of the factory. The factory was targeted as it plays a key role in the development of Elbit’s drones which are used to rain down death and destruction from the skies above Gaza, by manufacturing the engines for the drones. Activists on the roof smashed lights and windows, drilling holes in the roof and destroying the air conditioning, attempting to keep the factory out of action for as long as possible. Red paint was also thrown down the front of the factory to symbol the blood of Palestinians that Elbit Systems is responsible for. As more activists and supporters appeared over the next few days, protests were staged outside the front of the factory bearing banners such as “Elbit weapons tested on Palestinians” and “Annexation = Apartheid”, with Palestinian flags waved and speeches made condemning Elbit’s continuing crimes against the Palestinian people. As police began to arrive on the scene however, activists and supporters from the local community were quickly repressed, denying the right to demonstrate outside the factory while harassing any passers-by who provided support were routinely harassed.

The occupation lasted three days before the activists on the roof were violently arrested, but not before coverage had spread across the country, including to supporters in Palestine, who declared their support and solidarity for the activists holding Elbit’s war-making factory hostage and preventing the construction of more drones that would be inevitably deployed in their skies. After the activists had been taken to two seperate police stations, activists and Palestinian supporters held a solidarity protest outside Watling Street Police Station in Stafford, calling for the release of the detained activists, once again bearing Palestinian flags and holding a banner demanding “Stop Arming Israel”. All rooftop detainees were eventually released on bail. 

With a new Palestine Action group forming in Reading, the second month of Palestine action ended with activists performing another Bus stop Ad-Hack in London, that declared “Testing weapons on Gaza civilians: Elbit Systems UK”, containing the names of the 551 Palestinian children killed by israel with the use of Elbit drones in 2014. Palestine Action is winning and it is only growing stronger. Despite the attempts to be threatened and shut down by Police, and with a recent meeting between Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Orit Farkash and UK Defence Secretary Dominic Raab where Palestine Action was demanded to be confronted by the government along with the wider, expanding UK BDS movement. Palestine Action is growing both in power and in popularity. It’s message of solidarity to the people of Palestine in exile and under military, apartheid, colonial occupation remaining steadfast, and its message to Elbit Systems and all those complicit in the UK’s support for Israel’s apartheid regime remains clear: We will continue to target you until you cut your ties with crimes against the Palestinian people. 

Now is the time to join us. Now is the time to get organised. Now is the time to take the fight directly to the heart of the UK’s complicity. Now is the time to win, and #ShutElbitDown

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