Seven people are facing the prospect of three months in prison for protesting against an Israeli-owned arms factory based in the UK.
The case against the seven activists will be heard in a Folkestone Magistrates Court Kent today. They are expected to plead not guilty of the charge of Aggravated Trespass, an offence which carries a maximum sentence of three months in prison. A number of the activists are locally connected to Kent.
The activists were arrested in August following a two-day occupation at the Elbit-Instro arms factory, which is newly situated in Discovery Park business park in Sandwich, Kent. Its parent company Elbit Systems supplies military equipment to Israel and activists claim that its products are the "backbone" of Israel's drone fleet.
Elbit Systems also supplies weapons to a number of other countries accused of committing war crimes including Saudi Arabia. The weapons manufacturer is Israel's largest privately-owned arms company. Campaign groups say that it provides 85 per cent of Israel's drones which were used to attack Gaza's civilian population repeatedly. Drones were used during Israel's Operation Protective Edge which killed over 2,300 civilians, including over 500 children.
A statement released by the Stop Elbit-Instro Defendants Solidarity Campaign said: "The skilled engineers of Elbit-Instro could be working to make the world a better place, yet instead they are employed to build machines that incinerate children." It added: "Shame on them all."
According to the campaign group locals resent the arms manufacturer and relations between Elbit-Instro and Kent residents soured following its attempted take-over of an airport site.
A spokesperson for East Kent Campaign Against the Arms Trade said: "There are urgent questions about whether Instro's specialist targeting technology is employed by Israel for targeting Gazan civilians every Friday during the Great Return March civil rights demonstrations, or in maintaining the surveillance of Palestinians along its illegal separation barrier, enabling the occupation's apartheid infrastructure."