Freedom News

Shut Elbit Down trial begins

Two activists from Palestine Action who succeeded in occupying and shutting down UAV tactical Systems (U-tacS), an Israeli drone manufacturer in Leicester currently besieged by Palestine Action, will begin their trial today, charged with criminal damage over £8000. The 7-day trial started today on Monday 19th June and will take place at Leicester Crown Court. 

The milestone action took place during May 2021 as the Israeli military bombarded Gaza using Elbit’s weaponry, murdering over 260 Palestinians, including 67 children. Once activists scaled the building, hundreds from the local community mobilised in support. The Leicester fire brigade were called by police to remove the activists from the roof of the factory, but refused. The Leicestershire Fire Brigade Union said at the time: “the Fire Brigades Union stand in support of Palestinian solidarity and the right to protest.” 

From May 18th to May 23rd, the activists remained on the roof, keeping the factory shut throughout the duration of the action. Paint was seen to be sprayed down the front of U-TacS, symbolising the Palestinian blood shed by Elbit’s weaponry. Activists were also able to record the inside of the factory from the roof, showing a military drone surrounded and protected by police. 

During the action, the police refused to provide water to the activists on the roof, leaving them to drink rainwater. Several locals who attempted to throw bottles of water up to the roof, were arrested and released hours later without charge. 

U-TacS is majority owned by Israel’s largest weapons firm, Elbit Systems. The company 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.

Images: Vudi Xhymshiti

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