Yesterday morning, Palestine Actionists set up a ground camp and scaled the adjacent trees, erecting unreachable hammocks overlooking UAV Engines Ltd — the Israeli drones factory that has rightly been a prime target for extensive action as part of the #ShutElbitDown campaign.
Activists have confirmed they plan to hold their positions, and will not leave until Elbit have vacated Shenstone, a sleepy English village near Lichfield. The factory produces engines and other components used to make drones such as the Hermes 450 — these are lethal munitions that have maimed and killed countless Palestinian men, women and children for decades.
In a statement from the camp, a spokesperson said: “We are here to pressure the war criminals to leave Britain and shut their killer factories. We welcome community support and engagement in support of the Palestinians on the receiving end of this factory’s weaponry. Elbit’s net contribution to the world is one of abject misery, pain and suffering. Their business has a massive human cost, and so on our part, no cost is too big to stop them. Rain or sun, we’ll hold our ground, resist, remain and in the end, we will #ShutElbitDown”
Elbit Systems are the linchpin behind Israel’s technological and military dominance over the Palestinian people, supplying 85% of the apartheid regime’s drone fleet — the company also produces a wide range of artilleries, chemical weapons, high calibre bulletry and much more. Over the years, they have literally ‘made a killing’ in profits by using their products, often experimentally, on the people of Gaza and elsewhere — only this month, Elbit’s weaponry was used to bomb Gaza for three solid days, killing 49 Palestinians including 17 children.
The Hermes 450 drone, which has been ‘tested’ on Palestinians and the populations of Iraq and Afghanistan, laid the foundations for the design and production of the Watchkeeper drone: the Watchkeeper is currently being deployed by both the UK Border Force and the British police for surveillance purposes.
This particular factory site in Shenstone is leased to Elbit by the real estate company Fisher German. After extensive direct action, Palestine Action have recently forced Fisher German to close their offices in Birmingham. The campaign against them will continue until they publicly announce their contract with Elbit is terminated — a pledge that was recently honoured after their headquarters in Leicester were sabotaged just last week.
The innovative tree camp and ground occupation comes after two solid years of direct action against UAV Engines — in fact, the factory has been hit no less than five times in the past two months. But, it doesn’t stop here: activists intend to ramp up the pressure in Shenstone, educating and galvanising local residents to join the struggle. Palestine Action’s intentions are clear: direct action will continue until UAV Engines becomes the third Israeli site to permanently close, joining Elbit Ferranti in Oldham and London’s 77 Kingsway offices — both now vacated.
Image: Palestine Action