Palestine Action activists charged with causing £50,000 of criminal damage to Elbit’s weapons factory in Shenstone

Feb 25, 2021

  • Six members of Palestine Action were arrested on Tuesday evening and held for around 40 hours before appearing in court
  • They have been charged with causing Elbit Systems £50,000 in damages
  • All six have had their homes raided by police in the past 24 hours

Before dawn on Tuesday morning, six activists from direct-action network Palestine Action climbed onto the roof of Elbit’s UAV Engines in Staffordshire — an Israeli-owned weapons manufacturer helping to facilitate Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people. Activists smashed windows, raised the Palestinian flag and covered the exterior walls red to symbolise the blood spilled by Elbit and the thousands of lives lost. 

The action successfully prevented the site from opening and halted its business-as-usual development of lethal weaponry. A journalist with a press card was also arrested during the morning, and wrongfully forbidden from reporting the action, until being de-arrested an hour later.

Prior to their arrest, activists also sprayed the police ‘cherry-picker’ that was preparing to lift them from the roof, dousing it with red paint using adapted fire extinguishers. After remaining steadfast all day, they were finally arrested on Tuesday evening and held for around 40 hours in police custody — an extension of the standard 24-hour limit, which comes into force when ‘serious crimes’ have allegedly been committed. Their homes were raided during the 40-hour period under section 18 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, but no further evidence was found to bring against them.

They were taken to Newcastle Under Lyme Magistrates Court on Thursday morning and all six were released on bail Thursday afternoon after being charged with criminal damage amounting to an estimated £50,000. 

Elbit Systems produces surveillance technology for Israel’s illegal apartheid wall and the engines for 85% of its military drones, among other weapons components. Its drones, which include the Hermes 450 and its later 900 model, were employed extensively during the 51-day attack on Gaza in 2014, which killed over 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children. 

This latest action comes after a three-day rooftop occupation at UAV Engines last September that cost the company an estimated £145,000 in damages, with other similar ‘shutdowns’ by Palestine Action at UAV Engines in November 2020 and January 2021. On 1st February the group joined forces with Extinction Rebellion North to occupy Elbit-Ferranti in Oldham for 16 hours, in what was described as the “first of many” collaborations.

A member of Palestine Action said about Tuesday’s occupation:

“We’re back, and this is once again, a clear and unwavering message to the immoral profiteers of war and the perpetrators of crimes against humanity that we’re not going away until Elbit’s lethal chain of weapons factories are hounded out of the UK.

“Petitioning and protests don’t work, so it’s our moral obligation to take matters into our own hands and use direct action to shut these death factories down for good.”

During a visit to the UK in August, just one month after Palestine Action’s formation, Israeli minister of strategic affairs Orit Farkash-Hacohen specifically mentioned the group’s actions in a meeting with Dominic Raab, also attended by Israel’s defence minister Benny Gantz. Farkash-Hacohen said:

“Only last weekend, the offices of an Israeli security company were vandalised for the fourth time in the last month. We want Israeli companies to continue doing business in London. It’s good for both countries”.

In response, Palestine Action co-founder Huda Ammori told Middle East Eye:

“It’s a massive victory to see that the Israeli minister of strategic affairs has to go to the UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab a month after our direct action group was launched. It shows the potential of this movement to actually end the operation of these immoral Israeli-owned UK-based companies.”

In January, Britain’s Ministry of Defence gifted the company with a £102 million contract to develop new “surveillance” technology to enable “frontline” soldiers to detect and accurately fire on alleged “enemy” targets in a matter of seconds.

Palestine Action, which launched in August 2020, is working to shut Elbit’s UK-based war industry down and has collectively hit the firm’s sites around 50 times in just 6 months. The group has vowed to continue targeting the Israeli arms company until it shuts down and vacates the UK.


Notes to editors

For more information or to arrange interview contact: 07840150925

Follow @pal_action on Twitter for developing news

Image credit: Vladimir Morozov

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 a grassroots level, calling for them all to be shut down and for the British Government to end its complicity in Israeli apartheid.

Held for over 40hrs, activists charged with £50k of criminal damage after their rooftop occupation of Israeli arms firm Elbit: 

Tuesday’s press release: 

Farkash-Hacohen’s meeting with Dominic Raab:

British Palestine direct action group takes on Israel’s largest arms company: 

Ministry of Defence signs £102 million contract with Elbit Systems UK for “sensor-to-shoot” systems:

Ministry of Defence has bought £46 million worth of military equipment from Elbit Systems since 2018-2020:

Human Rights Watch investigation into 2009 Israeli drone attacks on civilians in Gaza:

Amnesty calls on UK government to halt Israeli arms sales over evidence killer drone parts made in UK factory:

Elbit surveillance technology for Israel’s apartheid wall:

Role of Elbit drone in murder of four children playing on Gaza beach in 2014:

More on Elbit’s drones in Gaza:

Elbit’s military-grade drones trialled for use in English Channel against refugee crossings:

Shenstone factory shutdowns

3-day rooftop occupation: &

Balfour day synchronised actions:

Protesters shut down Israeli drones factory for a third time in under six months:

Previous Oldham factory shutdown with XR North

Activists stage protest at Oldham weapons factory:

Protest groups join forces to occupy Israeli arms company building:

Activists take aim at police following eight arrests over Oldham arms factory protest:

Palestinian liberation and climate justice: more in common than you might think: