Yesterday the Israeli occupation bombarded densely populated areas of Gaza, murdering 13 Palestinians including 4 children. Not willing to tolerate British complicity in these sort of abuses, two actionists retaliated, this morning, against the British roots of Israeli aerial domination over Palestinians.
Palestine Action drove a car through the inner perimeter of Leicester’s Israeli drone factory, UAV Tactical Systems (U-TacS), blockading the only entrance for the site. Two activists are using a lock on device to maintain the block in place, which immediately stopped a delivery from entering the premises. The action was completed despite enhanced security by the company and a permanent police operation put in place to protect the factory.
This comes on Day 10 of Palestine Action’s declared siege, which has seen U-TacS operations undermined and severely disrupted. The lock-on, the second such action in one week, has compounded the disruption for the Leicester subsidiary of Israel’s largest weapons company. Last week, four activists blockaded the factory, using lock-on devices to connect themselves to each other – lying across the factory’s access roads, they put their bodies on the line to keep the factory shut down.
Today’s action, and the continued mass action in Leicester generally, has seen hundreds turn up to mobilise against the weapons factory, with dedicated actionists maintaining a camp outside the factory since May 1st. They have persisted despite police desperation to shut down the siege, with police measures including the forceful removal of tents, mass arrests and seizure of property. Since the beginning of the siege, police have arrested over 41 people using disproportionate measures, and yet people remain defiant, and the siege is well into its 10th day of disruption caused to Elbit operations.
UAV Tactical Systems, is majority owned by Israel’s largest arms firm, Elbit Systems. In Leicester and across Elbit’s other 7 remaining sites in Britain, military technologies are manufactured for export directly to Israel. The UAV Tactical Systems site regularly sends drones and drone technologies to Israel, where Elbit’s drone products brutally enforce the Israeli occupation of Palestine. UAV Tactical Systems’ flagship drone, the Watchkeeper, has been used by the British military in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the English Channel – but is itself modelled on the notorious and deadly Hermes drone, after it was ‘battle-tested’ on Palestinians.
This Watchkeeper program, through being funded by the British Army, effectively funnels British taxpayer money to the development of the occupation’s military power. This is because profits made here are sent, as dividends, to Elbit’s parent company in Israel. Even in years when a loss is declared, their financial reporting reveals that this site sends millions to Elbit’s other arms through purchases. Elbit supplies 85% of Israel’s military drone fleet and land based weaponry. It’s products, including the Hermes, have been linked to documented atrocities by the Israeli military occupation.