Palestine Action smash into and occupy Elbit’s Leicester drone factory

May 8, 2024 | 0 comments

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Several activists from Palestine Action targeted Elbit’s Leicester drone factory, UAV Tactical Systems. One contingent smashed through the fence and into the weapons manufacturer using an article lorry, which two activists have climbed on top off. Simultaneously, another contingent scaled the building and are currently occupying the roof of the Israeli drone maker. The site has remained shut throughout the day, preventing the manufacture of drones for Israel.

Red paint has been sprayed across the building to symbolise the company’s involvement in spilling Palestinian blood, whilst those on the roof have used tools to break through the roof and expose the contents inside the murder factory. After fire brigade staff were called out to assist in the removal of the activists, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) released a statement in full support of the activists and Palestine solidarity generally, and issued guidance not to assist the police – just as they did at the same site two years ago.

UAV Tactical Systems is majority owned by Israel’s largest weapons manufacturer, Elbit Systems — who manufacture 85% of Israel’s military drone fleet amongst other lethal arms. Despite the company’s previous attempts to obscure their relationship with Israel, previous export licenses reveal drone technologies are regularly exported from the factory to the apartheid state. 

The Elbit and UAV Tactical Systems business model is based on, firstly, facilitating Israel’s war crimes including genocide and apartheid; in doing so, Elbit develop their technologies through ‘battle-testing’ on Palestinians, before repackaging and selling on products used to fuel violence abroad. 

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 450 drone, after the latter was ‘tested’ on Palestinians. 

Elbit’s drones are regularly used by the Israeli military during the ongoing genocide in Gaza. According to the United Nations, since October 7th the Israeli military has killed over 34,735 Palestinians, injured over 78,000 and destroyed over 70,000 housing units. Previous bombardments forced over 1 million Palestinians to flee to Rafah in Gaza — the Israeli military is now invading the only supposed ‘safe zone’ left in the besieged strip. 

A week ago the US paused a shipment of munitions to Israel over the then impending Rafah invasion. Yet, the UK government has failed to impose a two way arms embargo and continues to allow Elbit Systems to operate in this country.

Ahead of the action, one of the Palestine Action activists said: 

“This country is a signatory to the Genocide convention. These laws are not to be discounted just because it’s politically expedient. They were set up for a reason and I cannot accept that the country I was born in and have lived in all my life is deciding to flout those laws.”

Another said: “If the government aren’t going to act, it is my personal, moral and legal right to take direct action.” 

ENDS
NOTES TO EDITORS

If you would like any further information on Palestine action, please contact media@palestineaction.org

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.

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.