On 20 June, the British branch of Elbit, Israel’s largest arms company, announced it was closing its offices in Kingsway, Central London.
This was five months after Elbit, which produces 85 percent of the military drones Israel uses for attacks on Palestinian territory, announced the sale of its Elbit Ferranti factory in Oldham.
Both these closures are due to a sustained direct action campaign by Palestine Action (PA). In the case of Elbit’s London offices, they’ve been the target of 15 PA blockades and occupations since PA was founded in 2020.
In mid-May, nine PA activists were remanded in custody after an action at Elbit Systems UK’s Bristol HQ. The action took place on 15 May, marked in Palestine as Nakba (or ‘Catastrophe’) Day, to remember the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians from what became Israel in 1948.
Seven of the nine PA activists were released after a week – with electronic tags, non-internet orders and 7pm – 7am curfews. The remaining two, the only Israeli dissidents among the nine, were held in prison until the plea hearing on 15 June, when they were also released. The electronic tags, non-internet orders and curfews were lifted at the same time.
Eight more actions
The PA campaign continued relentlessly, despite the imprisonment of the nine on 15 May.
PA shut down Elbit’s London offices on 20 and 31 May, in both cases by activists locking-on across the main entrance which was also drenched with red paint ‘to represent the blood spilt by Elbit’s trade’.
On 1 June, six activists marked the founding of PA Scotland by occupying the roof of Thales’s factory in Glasgow and destroying factory equipment, causing an evacuation of the factory. Thales works with Elbit on a project supplying military drones to Israel.
A second PA Scotland action followed at the same factory on 11 July.
In England, PA activists occupied Arconite’s Birmingham factory on 13 June, and carried out actions at UAV Engines factory at Shenstone, Staffordshire, on 22 June and 4 and 24 July.
Arconite produced the highly-flammable cladding used on Grenfell Tower as well as parts for the US F-35 military aircraft supplied to Israel.
UAV Engines manufacture engines for military drones supplied to Israel. At their Shenstone factory, there were roof occupations, lock-ons across entrances, red paint actions and property damage.
Not much legal action seems to have been taken against PA activists....