The Siege Against Leicester’s Israeli weapons Factory Begins

May 1, 2023

Images and videos from The Siege can be accessed via, free to use or reproduce.

Palestine Action’s siege has begun. Hundreds have descended on Meridian Business Park in Leicester to force Elbit’s factory to shut down. The crowds began arriving this afternoon, and have been growing in number through the day. With banners, chants, flags, and rousing speeches delivered so far, the mass of people were welcomed later by an empowering performance by rapper and activist Lowkey, along with award winning actor and playwright Tayo Aluko, Palestinian Dabke, poetry, and more. 

The Siege against Leicester’s Elbit-owned UAV Tactical Systems (‘U-TacS’), is a mass action which involves huge numbers willing to remain at the site, using themselves to disrupt the flow of business [1]. Palestine Action refuse to leave until Elbit does.

There is a heavy police presence on the ground, with riot vans deployed and a metal wall erected around the factory, but actionists, undeterred, continue to arrive on the scene. Police have been conducting raids and arrests at random – smashing their way into parked cars to ‘search’ them. Ahead of the action, the company has also reinforced its site with extra fencing, cameras, and shuttered their windows. Despite this, a woodland camp was built by actionists days before the siege began and initially went unnoticed for 12 hours — even with Elbit’s ‘state-of-the-art’ surveillance. Others have now decamped on the road leading to the factory, pledging to stay there for as long as they can.

U-TacS is a drone factory owned and operated by Israel’s largest weapons company, Elbit Systems, in partnership with French arms firm Thales. Its flagship product is the Watchkeeper drone, modelled on the Hermes 450 after the latter was “battle-tested” on Palestinians [2]. The company boast that the Watchkeeper allegedly operated for over 100,000 hours over Afghanistan and Iraq [3]. Despite insisting that they only sell to the British military, U-TacS, in fact, export around £5 million worth of military equipment to Israel yearly, consisting primarily of drones and/or drone components, along with targetting and surveillance technologies, and other military equipment [4].

Elbit manufacture 85% of Israel’s military drone fleet [5], not only arming the Israeli military with these drones and developing the technology, but also operating the drones alongside the military, directly assisting them in their attacks. Palestine Action occupied Leicester’s Elbit site for six days in May 2021 [6] at the height of the Israeli aggression on Gaza in 2021 — a bombing campaign which left over 250 Palestinians dead, including over 60 children [7].

The siege intends to sever what Palestine Action describe as the apparatus of the Israeli military working from Britain:

“Protests, petitions and all appeals to the British establishment to end their century-long complicity have failed. However, the mass movement of people willing to mobilise to shut Elbit down demonstrates that the route to victory lies with the people – and with not the powers that be. We will resist until we win.” 

Reporters are encouraged to continue attending the site throughout the month of May and witness the public’s drive and determination to kick Elbit out of the city. 

Regular updates can be found on Palestine Action’s Twitter [8] and social media accounts [9].



If you would like any further information on Palestine action, please contact

Palestine Action is a direct-action network of groups and individuals formed with the mandate of taking action against the sites of Elbit Systems and other companies complicit in Israeli apartheid, calling for all such sites to be shut down.