For nearly a month, Israel has bombarded Gaza from land, sea and air. More than 1800 Palestinians have lost their lives and war crimes have been committed. To our collective shame, the UK government has not only failed to take action to pressure Israel to stop its massacre, but has refused to take steps to end the material support it provides to Israel’s brutal regime of apartheid and colonialism. When governments support crimes against humanity, grassroots movements must take direct action.
A group of activists from the London Palestine Action network have today, August 5, 2014, chained the doors shut of an Israeli weapons factory based near Birmingham in the UK and are now occupying the roof. As part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) and in response to calls for action from Palestinian movements, we are demanding the permanent closure of the factory and an end to all forms of military trade and cooperation with Israel.
The factory that we are occupying produces engines for drones and is owned by Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military company and the world’s largest drones producer. Drone engines manufactured at this factory have been exported to Israel in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and Elbit Systems drones are being used in Israel’s ongoing massacre. Any claims that components manufactured at this factory are not being used in Israel’s current attack on Gaza are not credible.
Drones are a key part of Israel’s military arsenal. By allowing this factory to export drone components and other arms to Israel, the UK government is providing direct support and approval to Israel’s massacres.
The factory is also a key part of the Watchkeeper program under which Elbit Systems is leading the manufacture of a new generation of drones for the UK military. The Watchkeeper drone is based on the Hermes 450, documented as being used to kill Palestinian civilians during the 2008-09 attack on Gaza. Elbit Systems markets its drones as “field tested”—by which it means that their drones have been proven to be effective at killing Palestinians. The UK government is importing technology that has been developed during the course of Israeli massacres.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the UK government have Palestinian blood on their hands. In order to end their deep complicity with Israel’s system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid against Palestinians, they must take steps to impose a full military embargo on Israel and close the Elbit Systems factory immediately.
It is more important than ever that the solidarity we build with the Palestinian struggle is effective and impactful. Israel does not act alone but is supported by governments and corporations across the world that have names and addresses. It is time for the international solidarity movement to escalate its direct actions against those that support and profit from Israeli apartheid to take action that can lead to a genuine isolation of Israel.
Join the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement! Stop arming Israel!
Victory to the Palestinian struggle!
—London Palestine Action, August 5, 2014