Nine activists from Palestine Action pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal damage and burglary, at Bristol Crown Court on 15th June 2022. Their charges follow a direct action taken at the Bristol Headquarters of Israel’s largest arms company, to commemorate Nakba Day on 15th May 2022. Two activists, Ronnie Barkan and Stavit Sinai, who are both foreign nationals, were imprisoned since the action and were granted bail at the plea hearing yesterday. Their conditions for bail involve surrendering their Israeli passports, a 10PM curfew, an electronic tag, and non-association with their co-defendants.
A Palestine Action Spokesperson said: “We are delighted to welcome the release of our political prisoners. However, the courts and state have mistakenly treated Palestine Action activists as criminals, and failed to investigate the crimes against humanity Elbit Systems is directly facilitating. No matter what tactics the state use to try and crush our movement, we will only grow stronger and more determined to #ShutElbitDown”
The 1948 Nakba saw Zionist militia ethnically cleanse 800,000 Palestinians (more than half of the indigenous population of Palestine), over 500 Palestinian towns and villages destroyed, and many more killed. The ongoing project to displace, oppress and massacre Palestinians continues to this day, and is made possible by companies such as Elbit Systems. Elbit is Israel’s largest arms company, which develops its weapons on the captive population of Gaza. This allows them to market their military products as “battle-tested”, and gain lucrative contracts with other regimes.
The nine activists broke into Elbit’s Bristol HQ, barricaded themselves inside, and destroyed equipment belonging to the arms corporation. In an unprecedented crackdown for Palestine Action, the 9 activists were remanded to prison, despite the fact that 6 were initially granted bail by a magistrates judge, which was appealed immediately by the Crown Prosecution Service. After a week, 7 activists were released from prison, with an electronic tag, 7PM-7AM curfew, orders to show police any devices which they use to access the internet, and not to associate with one another. Yesterday, these conditions were relaxed, removing their electronic tag, non-internet orders, and curfews.
Image credit: Palestine Action