Palestine Action blockade UAV Tactical Systems, on Day Two of the Siege

May 2, 2023

On Day Two of The Siege, four activists used lock-ons to block both roads which lead to the factory of Elbit subsidiary, UAV Tactical Systems. Completely cutting off access, the activists have put their bodies in the way and their liberties on the line, in determination that Elbit cannot be allowed to make their drone technologies in Leicester, not today nor any day to come. More developments are expected through the day, as scores continue to mobilise against UAV Tactical Systems in solidarity with the victims of Elbit weaponry in Palestine and elsewhere.

With the south-side entrance already occupied – the road hosting a camp from the first day – the disruption to Elbit was intensified this morning. The camp occupation was reinforced by a lock-on, as was the site’s north-side entrance, by activists who made their way past the police and their metal separation wall which had been guarding the site’s second entrance. Both access points on the Meridian East road have now been blockaded.

Ahead of the siege, Palestine Action had pledged that UAV Tactical Systems would be made the third Elbit site to be shut down permanently, after sustained actions at their Oldham factory and London headquarters led to those sites’ closure [1, 2]. The second day of the siege has been seen action escalate as Palestine Action seek to fulfil this pledge, disrupting any planned work and undermining operations.

This comes after hundreds turned out throughout the first day of the siege, amassing outside the factory for a mass action. The start of the sustained resistance was marked by Palestinian Dabke, poetry, speeches and performances by Lowkey and Tayo Aluko. Activists settled in two camps, in addition to the woodland camp previously established [3], tents were pitched on the road immediately outside the factory, in what Lowkey described as creating a future ‘village called Free Palestine’.

As expected, the police turned out in full force and were using multiple means to intimidate those amassed for the siege. Three arrests in total were made, including a nighttime house raid, as the police found spurious reasons to make arrests and searches on suspicion of ‘conspiracy to commit criminal damage’.

In Leicester and across Elbit’s other 7 remaining sites in Britain, military technologies are manufactured for export directly to Israel. The UAV Tactical Systems site regularly sends drones and drone technologies to Israel [4], where Elbit’s drone products brutally enforce the Israeli occupation of Palestine. UAV Tactical Systems’ flagship drone, the Watchkeeper, has been used by the British military in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the English Channel – but is itself modelled on the notorious and deadly Hermes drone, after the latter was ‘battle-tested’ on Palestinians [5].

The Elbit and UAV Tactical Systems business model is based on, firstly, facilitating apartheid and Israel’s war crimes; in doing so, Elbit develop their technologies through ‘battle-testing’ on Palestinians, before repackaging and selling on products used to fuel violence abroad. Elbit, Israel’s largest weapons company, supplies 85% of Israel’s drones, and 85% of its land based military equipment [6]. Its products, including the Hermes, have been linked to documented attrocities by the Israeli state [7, 8].

Speaking of today’s events, a Palestine Action spokesperson has said:

“These individuals have taken it upon themselves to make sure that UAV Tactical Systems does not open, and to stand against the ‘business-as-usual’ of a company whose profits are soaked in Palestinian blood. This site’s existence is a stain on this country, and we remain determined to see U-TacS closed down.”



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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.