Over a dozen anti-war activists staged a protest against Harvard Kennedy School professor Meghan L. O’Sullivan Tuesday morning, disrupting a class she was teaching to first-year master’s of public policy students. The protesters denounced O’Sullivan’s affiliation with Raytheon Technologies, a weapons manufacturing firm, and her role in the Bush administration during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. O’Sullivan served as deputy national security advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan in the Bush administration prior to joining the Harvard Kennedy School. She currently sits on Raytheon’s board of directors. The protestors, most of whom were not affiliated with Harvard, burst into the classroom chanting “Meghan O’Sullivan, you can’t hide, we can see your war crimes” and “When missiles fly, people die, and O’Sullivan’s profits multiply,” while holding up a banner critical of O’Sullivan in front of the class.
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.
Yesterday, 14 activists were unlawfully arrested after manning the Palestine Action Camp for the past two weeks. The activists were arrested under the pretext of “conspiracy to commit criminal damage”, despite no evidence given for these claims. It would appear the arrests were part of an attempt to remove activists, ahead of an event outside the factory that called for mass mobilisation. During the raid, devices were seized, equipment damaged deliberately and packed up by police, who then cordoned the whole camp off, marking it a “crime scene”. Those arrested were released in the early hours of today. Although no crime was committed, bail conditions were given that have left activists unable to attend Elbit sites, unable to be in Shenstone, and told they cannot “directly or indirectly encourage any individuals, groups or organisations to cause any damage to property owned, leased, rented and/or occupied by Elbit Systems, its subsidiaries and/or venture partners”.
Gaza has spent three days and nights mourning the dead. Circling the skies, raining fire down below, are the drones and fighter jets of Elbit Systems – Israel’s largest arms company. Knowing that petitions, rallies and appeals to power will do nothing here in Britain, we’ve responded with direct action. We are currently occupying Elbit client “The Good Packing Company”, who package, transport and export Israeli weapons battle tested on the Palestinian people. The four activists’ rooftop occupation is ongoing, with extensive damage enacted and the activists set on staying as long as possible. Activists have dismantled site CCTV, struck out at windows with sledgehammers, and coated the site in paint. At the Elbit transport hub, site operations are halted and the flag is being flown.
On Monday 2.500 workers who make fighter jets, missiles, and drones for Boeing in the St. Louis area are set to strike. It would be the largest strike at the aerospace giant since 2008, and the biggest manufacturing strike since last year’s showdown at John Deere. The major issues also mirror the Deere fight: a two-tier wage regime and a disappearing retirement system. Like the Deere strikers, the Boeing workers are revisiting concessions they took in their last round of negotiations—in Boeing’s case, a whopping eight years ago. Those givebacks look different against the backdrop of rising inflation and after years of immiseration. “We were essential workers throughout the pandemic,” says Josh Arnold, a shop steward with Machinists Lodge 837B. “I know personally of three members who died of Covid. They came to work, got sick, went home, and died.
On Saturday night, Israeli military forces raided Nablus, armed with stun grenades and ammunition and killing two Palestinians and injuring 9 others. On Sunday, members of Palestine Action descended upon Israeli weapons company Elbit Systems’ factory in Shenstone, smashing and striking at the site exterior, throwing red paint, a message to the Israeli occupation and those who uphold it – the day has passed where your violence will go unchecked, prepare to be met with resistance every step of the way. Activists took action seeking to dismantle an industry built on occupation, dispossession and warfare across the globe. A Palestine Action spokesperson said: “Elbit drones are made in Britain, tested on Palestine then sold back to the British military, amongst others.
Elbit Systems is met with direct action once more, as Palestine Action activists have taken to Elbit Systems’ (Israel’s largest arms factory) factory in Shenstone and closed the site for the third time in two weeks. The Elbit subsidiary operates as UAV Engines LTD. and is responsible for manufacturing Elbit’s military drone engines. Activists have locked on across the factory gates and hurled symbolic blood-red paint onto the premises, leaving the site inoperable. On June 22nd, activists took to the roof of UAV Engines LTD., proclaiming ‘2 down, 8 to go’ – a warning to Israel’s arms manufacturers.
Right now a group of activists with Resist and Abolish the Military Industrial Complex (RAM INC) are taking over the roof of Raytheon's facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Raytheon’s parking garage has also been blockaded and there is a disruption happening in the facility's main lobby. They are there to demand that Raytheon stop profiting from war, genocide and colonial violence. Raytheon is the largest producer of guided missiles in the world and is the second largest military contractor. They have made billions in profits from Israel’s occupation of Palestine, Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They also have numerous contracts with ICE and other border enforcement agencies around the world.
On January 13, campaigners announced that, after years of popular pressure and direct action, Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems had decided to bite the bullet and sell its factory located in Oldham in the northwest of England. A week later, there was another victory for the anti-war activists, as a British judge dismissed the case against three members of the group Palestine Action who were on trial for occupying Elbit’s factory in Shenstone, 60 miles to Oldham’s south. Today, The Watchdog speaks to three key members of the campaign to force Great Britain to divest itself from aiding in war crimes around the world. Adie Mormech is a member of Manchester Palestine Action and has been involved in organizing against Elbit Systems since 2014.
Palestine Action have raided Elbit System’s subsidiary, UAV Engines Ltd, in Shenstone, Staffordshire at 7.15 this morning. The activists have sprayed blood-red paint and begun dismantling the weapons factory, whilst occupying the roof to prevent site operations. With windows smashed and equipment dismantled, the action draws parallels with Israel’s forced demolitions of Palestinian homes, sounding the alarm on the ethnic cleansing Israel is currently enacting in Sheikh Jarrah, Palestine. Elbit Systems are Israel’s largest arms manufacturer and hold a significant presence in Britain. A key subsidiary, UAV Engines Ltd has been a target of Palestine Action since the group’s launch in July 2020, when activists shut the site five times in five months and caused millions of pounds of losses.
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.
United Kingdom - Three activists who defaced an Israeli drone engines factory in the UK were found not guilty of criminal damage on Monday. The two-day trial took place at Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates Court, near Stoke-on-Trent in central England. Palestine Action co-founder Huda Ammori told The Electronic Intifada that the victory showed they were on the right track. “We’re going to continue to take direct action in order to shut down and undermine Israel’s arms trade,” she said. It was reassuring to have court backing for taking action against Israeli arms makers, she added, and that “to disrupt them and throw red paint over their buildings is something that’s perfectly within our rights to do.”
In 2020, when the global economy contracted over 3.1% due to the COVID-19 pandemic, global arms trade recorded an increase of 1.3%, as per latest data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday, December 6. The growth in arms trade, both domestic and international, reveals how governments worldwide chose to maintain or increase their spending on arms despite the economic hardships caused by the pandemic. According to SIPRI, arms trade by the world’s top 100 companies in the sector touched USD 531 billion in 2020, making it the sixth consecutive year of growth since 2015. According to Alexander Marksteiner, a researcher with SIPRI, the main reason for the growth in arms trade in spite of the global economic slump was “sustained government demand for military goods and services.”
In this interview, Lowkey speaks to the co-founders of Palestine Action, Huda Ammori and Richard Barnard, both of whom have been arrested for their anti-Apartheid activism. Ammori is a Palestinian-Iraqi whose father was chased from his home by Israeli soldiers in 1967. He was forced to flee to Iraq without even a pair of shoes. The pair discussed what they were trying to achieve with their disruptive tactics and the legal basis for their actions. As Ammori told Lowkey: People often think when we do these things that we are doing it to defy the law or breaking the law in the process. But we would always say that we’re not breaking the law; what we’re doing is actually rooted in law; it is a lawful act to do something to prevent the greater crime — to act to save lives. In 2006, at the height of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, nine activists in Northern Ireland forced their way into the offices of Raytheon, a major arms manufacturer.
Palestine Action have taken action at the London offices of LaSalle Investment Management, and at two other sites of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), demanding an end to their facilitation of Elbit Systems’ contributions to Israeli war crimes. Elbit Systems’ drones, military hardware, surveillance tech and more are used extensively in Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people, and their UK headquarters is in LaSalle’s building at 77 Kingsway, London. This operational hub is where Elbit’s manufacturing of drones and arms in Britain is organised, with LaSalle thus complicit in the war crimes committed with these products. JLL and LaSalle have declined to respond to repeated requests to evict Elbit or to recognise the role Elbit plays in repression of Palestinians.