One Convicted Activist in Day Long Walsall Magistrates Court Trial

Jun 9, 2023

On 8 June 2023, an activist was convicted of criminal damage and received a conditional discharge along with court costs. The incident took place on 14 January 2022, when they spray-painted messages such as “Free Palestine,” “Shut Elbit down,” “Elbit kills,” and “Oldham first Shenstone next” outside Elbit’s UAV Engines, a factory located in the village of Shenstone in the Midlands. The factory is involved in producing components for military drones, including the Hermes 450, which have been responsible for the deaths of numerous civilians. For example, in 2014, an Elbit drone was deployed, resulting in the tragic deaths of four boys who were playing on a Gaza beach, as revealed in an Israeli military police report [1].

During the court proceedings, multiple individuals from the public were not allowed to sit in the viewing gallery, despite this being standard procedure. Instead, only one member of the public was granted access to the gallery and others were made to remain outside.

Martin Kelly, the former head of Elbit Systems’ security, was called as a witness, despite not being present at the incident. He stated that individuals who owned houses near or opposite the Shenstone factory were facing difficulties in selling their properties due to the perceived negative effects caused by Palestine Action.

The defense raised a significant argument regarding the export licenses that the judge disallowed as evidence. These licenses demonstrated the export of drones to Israel through either the Ministry of Defense or a third party. The defense contended that this information was vital for the prevention of crime defense presented by the activist, who believed Elbit’s drones were used in attacks on Palestinian civilians. The defense emphasised that direct knowledge or evidence was not necessary for this defense and highlighted that the evidence, including expert witness testimony and export licenses, had been offered to the court. However, the prosecution rejected this evidence, which the defense pointed out to be a contradiction.

The activist expressed their perspective, stating, “Seeing violence on this scale warrants real action, so I felt compelled to step up, go beyond the activism I had done up until that point, after exhausting the alternatives, and I only saw the situation in Palestine worsening. The reason I took this action was because I felt there was no other choice. Britain is complicit, and Elbit being here creates a tangible opportunity to challenge the Israeli military regime.”