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Palestine Action occupy Leicester’s Israeli drone factory

Palestine Action have started their watch on UAV Tactical Systems by setting up a surprise ground camp, catching the Israeli arms manufacturer, its private security, and the police off guard. The activists set up camp, including unreachable hammocks in the treetops, in open defiance of the war machine. Under the cover of the trees behind the factory, they lay in wait four days before Palestine Action’s siege against Leicester’s Israeli weapons factory begins. 

Activists have confirmed they plan to hold their positions until Elbit vacates their weapons factory. From May 1st, those in the camp are due to be joined by the hundreds due to attend the siege and mobilise against Elbit’s business-of-bloodshed. The mass action will include hundreds staying put for weeks on end, through day and night, refusing to leave until Elbit does. Drawing parallels with the decades-long siege of Gaza, Palestine Action’s siege will symbolically turn this process on its head and cut off Leicester’s link to Israel’s military supply chain. This is the culmination of the past three years of resistance and actions against Elbit’s arms making. 

UAV Tactical Systems, a joint venture between Elbit and French company Thales, has a number of export licenses for the sale of arms to Israel, covering drones, military technology, imaging systems, and ground vehicles. The factory’s flagship product is the Watchkeeper drone, which is modeled after Elbit’s Hermes 450, after it was ‘battle-tested’ on Palestinians. The Hermes drone is used for both surveillance and bombardent of Palestinians in Gaza. It is this drone that Elbit has repackaged into the Watchkeeper, for use in Britain’s imperialist intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well in British border operations

UAV Tactical Systems, is majority owned by Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms firm. Elbit Systems is the majority supplier of weapons for Israeli military, including 85% of Israel’s military drone fleet. In addition, Elbit has worked in close cooperation with the Israeli military in conducting air strikes, assisted by their AI technology, on Palestinians. 

But now, Palestine Action are bringing both targeted action and collective resistance to Leicester. A spokesperson from the camp said: “In a surprising blow to Elbit’s state of the art security, we’ve occupied the area behind them, unnoticed for 12 hours. We’re unreachable in the trees, and we’re here to lay the ground for the siege. We’re just a sign of what’s to come. ” 

Image: Martin Pope

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