Above Photo: Vladimir Morozov.
Disrupt combat drone production.
This morning, two vans were ploughed into the gates of the Shenstone UAV Engines factory, with six activists swiftly locked-on to the vans to prevent their removal as they obstruct all entrances to the factory.
This morning, two vans made a morning delivery from Palestine Action to the the gates of the UAV Engines drones factory in Shenstone. One van has crashed into the gate, while the second is blocking it and obstructing entry to the Israeli drone engine factory. Two activists were arrested in the process, while the remaining activists swiftly locked-on to the vans, preventing the vans’ removal and bringing the site to a standstill. The UAV Engines factory is operated by Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms company, as one of the firm’s eight remaining British locations. Police and Elbit Systems’ hired security have acted swiftly, erecting checkpoints around the town of Shenstone and temporarily closing the road leading to the factory.
Today’s action is the latest in a number of instances of direct action taken to prevent operations at the Shenstone factory. The site has been met with sustained direct action over the past two years, with dozens of groups of activists stepping in to prevent the manufacture of drone engines and parts. These actions include blockades and lock-ons to prevent entrance to the site, as has happened today, along with roof top occupations and the dismantling of the factory premises. Activists at the site have been joined by Staffordshire residents, who have repeatedly turned out in support of the #ShutElbitDown campaign, with the presence of the site being the source of grievance for many in the local community.
The factory specialises in the manufacture of engines and other parts used in combat drones such as the Hermes 450/900, a lynchpin in Israel’s military operations. The factory also manufactures parts for the Watchkeeper, used for surveillance purposes by Britain and the EU, and the Shadow drone, which forms part of the US military arsenal, notably used in the American invasion of Iraq and likely to be used in ongoing attacks on Yemen. Elbit Systems, which produced 85% of Israel’s drone fleet, manufactures a number of combat and surveillance drones for export – marketing their products as ‘battle-tested’ or ‘combat-proven’ as a result of their deployment by Israeli forces against Palestinians. Israel continues to use drones to murder and repress Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied territories, with the past week seeing Israeli deployment of drones against protesting Palestinians in Nablus.
A Palestine Action spokesperson has said: “This action is the latest in the #ShutElbitDown campaign, intent on driving up pressure on Israel’s largest arms company to leave. Many are now realising that when your own government actively supports the oppression of other nations, you have not only a right to disrupt this, but also a duty to. Day by day, Israel’s impunity is crumbling, and with it, people are flocking to take direct action at every level to end the daily violence Palestinians face.“