Above photo: Action at Howmet, Leicester/Palestine Action.
This morning, three simultaneous actions have targeted weapons factories across Britain, to prevent the production of weaponry destined for use by Israel in their ongoing massacre of the Palestinian people. While Israel’s Instro Precision in Kent has been met with a 100-person-strong blockade, a lock-on and a rooftop occupation disrupted Leicester’s UAV Tactical Systems and Howmet Fastening Systems.
At the Instro Precision factory in Sandwich, over 100 people have descended on the site, to blockade the two entrances to the Discovery Park business area. The site, which has faced protests for years and has previously been occupied by Palestine Action, has been forced closed – with no access in or out available for the death dealers operating the factory. Instro Precision is owned by Israel’s largest weapons firm, Elbit Systems, and specialises in military-grade electro-optical equipment for target location. Instro has been long-time supplier of the Israeli military regime, with their dozens of active and expired military export licenses representing the depth of their collaboration with the Israeli occupation. These licenses include ML5b surveillance/target acquisition systems – namely the XACT th64 sights which Instro have sold in quantities of thousands to Israel, likely outfitting their sniper regiments surrounding Gaza – along with components for military ground vehicles (ML6a), and other military electronic equipment (ML11).
Meanwhile, In Leicester, an activist attached themselves to a lock on, blockading the only entrance to UAV Tactical Systems (U-TacS) military drone factory, which is owned by Israel’s Elbit Systems and French arms firm Thales. After Palestine Action crashed a van through the factory gates last week, three activists were arrested after confronting the factory with the aim of halting its weapons production. At the same time, just metres away within the Meridian Business Park, another team scaled and occupied the factory roof of Howmet Fastening Systems, halting the production of components for Israel’s F-35 fighter jets. Whilst positioned on the roof, activists from Palestine Action have begun disarming the factory with sledgehammers.
U-TacS specialises in the manufacture of military drone technologies, which it exports in huge volumes yearly to Israel. Israel is not a customer of U-TacS’ flagship product, the Watchkeeper, meaning that these exports will almost certainly be components for the closely-modelled Hermes. 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 Palestinians killed and are certain to be playing a role in the current genocidal terrorism being committed by the Israeli military.
Howmet, U-TacS’ neighbour, is a spin-off of Arconic Incorporated, the company which knowingly made the faulty, lethal cladding for Grenfell tower. On its website, Howmet proudly boasts of the use of its fastening systems in building the F-35 Lightning II, a stealth fighter jet used by Israel to bombard Gaza, and in particular its work on the F-35 Engines, for which Howmet Aerospace Engine Bolts are exclusively made in Leicester. The F-35, which is estimated to be 15% British-made, has been deployed extensively in recent airstrikes to devastating effect. In the past two weeks, over 5,000 Palestinians have been massacred by Israel, with the vast majority of those dead having been killed by airstrikes.
These actions represent the strength in numbers of those willing and ready to take direct action to shut down the Israeli war machine – while our politicians and media rally behind Israel’s criminality, the grassroots movement against Israel’s war machine sees people power as the only way to stand against genocide. This week has seen this movement spread, rapidly: as Palestine Action US launches with the first actions against Elbit in Boston, MA, activists in Australia have similarly escalated their activity against Elbit in Melbourne.