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Palestine Action Crashes Into Leicester’s Israeli Drone Factory

Just 12 hours after the Israeli regime massacred at least 500 wounded, starving, and displaced Palestinians in Gaza’s Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital in a targeted missile strike, activists have breached and shut down the Leicester factory of Israel’s drone supplier Elbit, outfitters of the Israeli military regime. These bombing attacks serve a singular purpose, being designed to remove as much Palestinian life as possible from Gaza, and are made possible with Western-made weapons and technologies. This includes the military drone technologies which Elbit’s UAV Tactical Systems, based in Braunstone Town, Leicester, has regularly exported to the occupation military. The ML10 category military drones, which comprise the vast majority of the site’s £5m yearly exports to Israel, are a backbone of the Israeli air bombardment operation currently decimating Gaza.

Driving through the barricades of the UAV Tactical Systems factory, which has faced unrelenting direct action campaigning for over two years, the activists have prevented the site from operating. Positioning the modified van so that the gates can’t be closed, the activists have taken to the roof of the vehicle, from which they have lit flares, unfurled banners and Palestinian flags, destroyed the war criminals’ property within their reach, and have covered the opening of the factory in red paint. Shouting that ‘Sunak is the real criminal’, and reading out the family names that this week have been wiped from the registry, activists have ensured that anyone involved with UAV Tactical Systems’ collaboration with Israel is not permitted to forget the blood that they have spilled.

The Al-Ahli massacre, even before which Israel had killed 3,000 Gazans with their airstrikes, is the clearest demonstration of the genocidal intent of the Israeli regime, which is backed to the hilt with Western support and arms. Elbit Systems supplies 85% of Israel’s drone fleet, and 85% of its land-based military equipment, and yet their business-of-bloodshed is still allowed to operate on our streets. Palestine Action have always and will continue to refuse complicity in this barbarity, and are committed to ending the British operations of Israel’s largest weapons company.

UAV Tactical Systems is a joint enterprise of Israel’s Elbit Systems and France’s Thales, specialising in the manufacture of drone technologies including for Elbit’s Hermes drones. In previous bombardments of Gaza, Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 drones played a prominent role. Either dropping explosive payloads for bombing strikes, in the case of the Hermes 900, or by providing targeting for guided missile strikes in the case of the 450, these drones are responsible for vast numbers of Palestinian dead and are certain to be playing a role in the current genocidal terrorism being committed by the Israeli occupation forces. The Hermes drones has been used in attacks that are widely and rightly described as ‘war crimes and crimes against humanity‘.

Publicly, the company only advertises sale of its Watchkeeper drone, a drone based almost entirely upon the Hermes 900 used by Israel with identical components and design specification. Israel is not a customer of the Watchkeeper programme, meaning that the drone exports made to Israel from Leicester are in all likelihood the highly-similar Hermes drones or components therefor. Elbit Systems more widely, including its subsidiaries such as IMI Systems, manufacture tank munitions and mortar rounds used to murder Palestinians in prior bombardments of Gaza. Elbit Systems has for over two decades been a supplier for the F-16 jets, of which Israel has over 300, along with supplying equipment for the F-35 and which are being used to devastating effect against Gaza. It is widely reported that the the Al-Ahli massacre used a JDAM strike, which F16s, F/A-18 are F35 are capable of deploying – with Elbit supplying many parts and forms of equipment for these jets. The past eleven days of bombing, and the rocketing numbers of Palestinian dead, both civilian and resistance fighters, means undoubtedly that thousands of victims’ blood is caked on the hands of Elbit, its shareholders, partners, accomplices, and workers.

Palestine Action have stated:

The massacre at Al-Ahli Arabi shows these demons for who they are – not that we didn’t already know. And all the while, the Western world is standing, not idly by, but firmly on the side of the genocidal Israeli regime as it seeks to make all Gazans either permanently displaced from Palestine, or permanently dead.

Those of us in this country who can see these crimes against humanity for what they are have the duty to defy the government and its complicity; to refuse contributions to these actions in our name by dismantling our land’s military ties to the occupation regime. How many more thousands of dead will it take before the people realise our moral responsibility to shut down Elbit, Thales, Rafael, and all the other companies operating here which make these horrors possible?

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