Activists took action against the factory to disrupt its manufacture of engines and components for Israel’s killer drones, and have covered the factory in painted slogans of ‘Shut Elbit Down’, ‘Free Palestine’, ‘First Oldham, Next Shenstone’ and more.
The action comes the same week as news that Elbit’s Oldham factory has been shut down permanently, after months of intensive direct action by Palestine Action. Days after shutting down one site permanently, the group have taken on another of Elbit’s remaining killer factories.
Palestine Action breached security and gained entry to the heavily guarded Israeli arms factory in Shenstone. The site, used for the manufacture of engines and components for Elbit’s murderous drones, was broken into at 11:00 this morning, with the two women evading an extensive security presence. Aiming to disrupt operations at the site, the activists have covered the factory in painted slogans including ‘Shut Elbit Down’, ‘Free Palestine’, ‘First Oldham, Next Shenstone’. One activist was arrested on the site.
The site has been targeted as part of an ongoing campaign of direct action against Elbit Systems, which is Israel’s largest private arms manufacturer, and which has produced 85% of the drones in Israel’s drone fleet. The UAV Engines factory is crucial for Elbit’s manufacturing of drones. The site produces the engines and components for Elbit’s Hermes drone – which has been used extensively to surveil, repress, bomb and murder Palestinians in Gaza The drone has been linked directly to extrajudicial assassinations by Israel, as well as the murder of 4 children playing on a beach in Gaza in 2014. It also produces for Elbit’s Watchkeeper drones, which are sold to the British military and border forces to surveil migrants and conduct imperialist military interventions abroad.
The action comes on the heels of a major victory in the fight to end British complicity in Israeli war crimes, with news breaking this week that Elbit have permanently closed their Oldham factory and have sold their Ferranti Technologies business. This comes after months of action by Palestine Action, with activists regularly scaling, occupying, blockading, dismantling the factory, each time covering premises in blood-red paint to signify the bloodshed facilitated with Elbit weapons.
Prior to being shut down, the Oldham factory manufactured surveillance and targeting systems for Elbit drones, and is the first of Elbit’s 10 (now 9) sites in Britain to have been shut permanently. Palestine Action will continue to undermine, disrupt, and shut down Elbit’s British sites until they cease to operate on the streets of Britain, and all the remaining sites are closed.
The action also marks the beginning of the Week of Action to Free Ahmad Sa’adat, which has been called by the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. The Week of Action has been called on the 20th anniversary of Sa’adat’s illegitimate arrest by Israeli police, and this action has been taken in solidarity with him and his 4,650 fellow Palestinian political prisoners. These prisoners have been detained illegally, and tried in Israel’s contemptable military courts – and regularly face torture, isolation, coercive interrogation, and denial of family and lawyer visits.
This widespread violation of basic human rights for Palestinian prisoners is furthered by Elbit’s malicious operations, with the firm equipping the surveillance state under which Palestinian civilians exist. Elbit surveillance technologies fortify the apartheid walls and checkpoints which divide the country, and their combat and tactical gear is used widely by Israeli police. The unjustifiable abuses of human rights undertaken by the Israeli police and military courts system is facilitated in part by Elbit Systems’ operations.