Lib Dem Somerset council’s complicity in Israel’s genocide

  • Post last modified:March 19, 2024
  • Reading time:7 mins read

A Lib Dem-led council in Somerset is facing the wrath of local residents and activists over its complicity in Israel‘s ongoing genocide in Gaza. This is because the council is the landlord of one of the biggest arms manufacturers supplying the colonialist state with weapons.

Lib Dem Somerset council: complicit in genocide

Lib Dem-led Somerset Council is the landlord of Aztec West 600, the headquarters of Elbit Systems UK. Elbit Systems UK is owned by Israel’s largest weapons firm, which markets its weaponry as “battle-tested” after they’re developed through assaults on the Palestinian people.

The Israeli weapons maker manufactures 85% of Israel’s military drone fleet and land-based equipment, as well as missiles, bombs and bullets. Elbit’s CEO Bazhalel Machlis, who sits on the board of Elbit Systems UK, boasted of how the Israeli military has thanked the company for their “crucial” services during the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

Since 7 October, Israel has killed over 31,000 Palestinians, injured over 73,000, and displaced the vast majority of Gaza. By being Elbit’s landlords, the Lib Dems are complicit in this.

Direct action

So, supporters of Palestine Action have taken direct action against the Lib Dem-led council. On Monday 18 March, the doused the council offices in red paint:

Activists also wrote some home truths on the brickwork:

As the Canary has reported, on two previous occasions, Somerset residents have disrupted Lib Dem-led council meetings urging for immediate action to be taken and for Elbit’s lease to be terminated. Amidst financial issues, the council has made plans to sell all of their commercial properties including Aztec West 600.

The Lib Dem-led council issued a predictably snivelling response, saying:

While we respect the right of individuals and groups to protest, we strongly condemn this criminal damage on a Grade II-listed public building which will need to be removed at taxpayers’ expense.

Moreover, residents have repeatedly emphasised that selling the property doesn’t absolve the council of its responsibility, and before any sale takes place the council must evict Elbit from its property.

Lib Dem council still on Palestine Action’s hit list

As the Lib Dem-led council has not yet taken such action, they remain on Palestine Action’s database of institutions and companies who profit from and enable Israel’s weapons trade.

The local group said:

By taking Elbit’s money, our council have Palestinian blood on their hands. By default, they’ve made the whole county of Somerset complicit in the ongoing genocide in Gaza. We refuse to stand by whilst the council continue to ignore our requests to evict Elbit. For the Palestinian people at the other end of Elbit’s weapons, we will continue to take action until the council kick Elbit out of Aztec West 600.

Featured image and additional images via Palestine Action

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