Palestine Action has shown the power of protest this week

  • Post last modified:March 1, 2024
  • Reading time:14 mins read

Palestine Action has undertaken FOUR separate protests and occupations in the past few days – all targeting Israel’s weapons industry which is currently being used in the state’s genocide in Gaza. This is perhaps one of the group’s busiest weeks in recent times.

Moreover, Palestine Action is doing what disgraceful politicians dare not do: shutting down Israel’s supply of weapons and finance used in crimes against humanity and genocide.

Palestine Action: shutting down a drone factory

First, on Tuesday 27 February activists from Palestine Action returned once again to Staffordshire to inflict a blow to Israel’s arms trade, by shutting down the factory responsible for making their drone engines:

As the death toll from Israel’s genocidal campaign being waged against Gaza surpasses 30,000, activists locked themselves to the gates of the factory, preventing all entry and operations to render the site redundant and unable to manufacture weaponry for war crimes.

The activists established protest contingent around the gates to maintain the blockade of the site ahead of a locally-convened regular protests outside the gates:

Lying through its teeth

UAV Engines Shenstone is owned and operated by Israel’s largest weapons company. From this site, Elbit manufacture the Wankel-type or AR-80-1010 rotary engines used in their Hermes drone fleet – currently being flown above the skies of Gaza and linked to documented war crimes by the Israeli military.

The company have long maintained that it does not export from Shenstone to Israel – but export information obtained by Freedom of Information request shows a number of export licenses granted for Israel granted under the ML10 category for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or components thereof.

The premises have been hit multiple times over the past three and a half years by Palestine Action, in a serious of intensive actions that have seen the site blockaded numerous times, occupied, and dismantled, as mobilisation seeks to ensure that murderous equipment does not make its way to the occupation regime from Staffordshire.

Politicians won’t act

On this occasion, cops arrested four activists:

The action comes amid continued governmental refusals to halt arms transfers to Israel, despite the well-established role that Western-made weapons are being used to commit war crimes, and despite a growing international consensus against arming the occupation regime. With this blockade, activists imposed a direct action arms-embargo on the murderous Zionist state.

A Palestine Action spokesperson has stated:

For the last 140 days, Elbit’s drones, munitions, arms and military technologies have been used to slaughter Palestinians in their thousands – but the company has a far longer history of facilitating atrocities. It is abhorrent that they are still allowed to operate in Britain.

Activists have taken the matter into their own hands to halt the corrupt, bloodthirsty industry fuelling death from Britain’s towns.

Then, early on Thursday 29 February more direct action happened.

Palestine Action: shutting down the financing

Activists from Palestine Action occupied the Manchester offices of Bank of New York (BNY) Mellon, which invests over £10m in Elbit Systems.

The front of the offices were covered in red paint while two activists were on top of the front doors and another two attached themselves to lock on devices to block the car park entrance:

Palestine Action

Repeated protests and actions have taken place at the bank’s premises in both New York and Manchester, in a sustained bid to pressure the bank to stop funding genocide. Due to ongoing pressure from Manchester activists, BNY Mellon cancelled a recruitment event.

Elbit Systems provide 85% of Israel’s military drone fleet and land-based equipment, as well as bombs, missiles and other weaponry. The Israeli weapons maker market their weapons as “battle-tested” after they are developed during bombardments on occupied Palestine.

Elbit’s CEO Bezalel Machlis explained in a video how crucial Elbit was to the ongoing genocide and how the company has received gratitude by the Israeli military for their lethal services.

Over 30,000 dead people – yet politicians won’t act

Cops ended up arresting nine Palestine Action activists over the blockade:

Since 7 October, the Israeli military has slaughtered over 30,000 Palestinians (40% of whom are children), injured over 70,000 and displaced the majority of people in Gaza.

During previous bombardments in other parts of Gaza, Israel told Palestinians to flee to Rafah declaring it a “safe zone”. Israel is now planning a ground invasion of Rafah, where 1.4 out of the 2.1 million Gazan population are sheltering in an area which is the same size as Heathrow airport.

Then, later on 29 February several local residents of Somerset and supporters of Palestine Action disrupted Somerset Council’s ‘Property and Investments Sub-Committee meeting, as the council lease Aztec West 600 to Elbit Systems.

A local council’s complicity

Locals took it in turn to disrupt different points of the meeting in order to convey the residents frustration at the council’s continued complicity in the genocide of Palestine. The majority of councillors were followed out of the room when they first refused to hear the residents’ concerns:

In total, the councillors left the room twice and after being disrupted for an hour, the third time they left they closed the meeting to the public and move rooms.

This is the second council meeting disrupted by locals over the tenancy with Elbit Systems, having previously interrupted the Somerset Council Executive Committee on 7 February 2024. Somerset Council are the landlords of Aztec West 600, the headquarters of Elbit Systems.

Due to financial concerns, the council have made plans to sell Aztec West 600 as part of a wholesale move to dispose of their commercial investments. However, residents are demanding the council follow their legal and moral obligations to immediately evict Elbit from the property before disposing of the site.

Whilst the action was underway, another massacre was taking place in Gaza. Whilst thousand queued to receive food aid, the Israeli military killed at least 104 Palestinians and injured over 760.

Thank goodness for Palestine Action

A Palestine Action spokesperson added:

Somerset Council have both a legal and moral duty to terminate the lease with Elbit Systems before selling the property. This is what the local people want and what the Palestinian people deserve. If Elbit remains a tenant and the property is sold, any future landlord will also remain a target of our campaign as any enablers of Elbit’s business are deeply complicit in the ongoing Gaza genocide.

And finally, on Friday 1 March Palestine Action was conducting its fourth operation – this time at the offices of Avnet in Bolton. Avnet is another supplier for Elbit Systems:

So, in total Palestine Action carried out four operations in the space of three days. However, what the group also did was put politicians to shame. Our failed democracy, where MPs still allow arms sales to Israel despite accusations of genocide and human rights abuses, is complicit. So, thank goodness for groups like Palestine Action – which hold the powerful to account and take action where politicians dare not.

Featured image and additional images via Palestine Action

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