To commemorate the first anniversary of Israel’s 2014 bombardment of Gaza, and also in the week that marks 10 years since the founding of the Palestinian-led BDS campaign, international solidarity activists yesterday closed down 4 factories owned by Israeli arms manufacturer, Elbit Systems.
In the UK, more than 150 activists blockaded the UAV Engines Limited factory in Shenstone, Staffordshire. UAV is a subsidiary of Elbit, and has been reported by Amnesty International to have supplied engines for drones that have been used by Israel during attacks on Gaza. Two other Elbit owned arms factories in the UK – Elite KL in Tamworth, Staffordshire and Instro Precision in Broadstairs, Kent – were also shut down by activists who occupied factory rooftops. In Australia, activists closed down an Elbit subsidiary in the southern city of Melbourne.
The Shenstone and Broadstairs factories had previously been occupied by activists in August during Israel’s 2014 bombardment of Gaza.
In the early hours of yesterday morning a police injunction was issued in an attempt to prevent the Shenstone demonstration, but within a couple of hours of the injunction being issued activists had ‘locked-on’ and blocked roads leading to the site. By 9am police began attempting to physically remove activists and on several occasions throughout the day police used force to push activists away from the factory gates despite the entirely non-violent nature of the action.
The BBC quoted Staffordshire police as stating that 19 activists were arrested during the Shenstone action.
According to War on Want, one of several organisations and grassroots movements involved in coordinating the event, “In 2014 alone, the UK government licensed over £11.6 million worth of military equipment and arms components for export to Israel, with full knowledge of what those arms are used for.”
More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed during last year’s attacks on Gaza.