Yesterday, Palestine Action crashed the DroneX Trade Show & Conference at ExCel London, advertised as ‘Europe’s Largest Business Event Dedicated to the UAV industry’. During a keynote speech by Dave Drewitt (Head of Sales and Business Development at Thales’ ‘Flight Avionics’) on ‘Sharing Skies – Enabling Safe & Secure Drone Operations’, activists took to the stage to highlight the hypocrisy of the talk and raise the Palestinian flag. Exposing Thales’ role in facilitating crimes against the Palestinian people by manufacturing Israeli drones, activists made clear that no apartheid-supplying business has the right to lecture on safe & secure drone operations.
Thales is one of the world’s largest arms companies, whose products include military drones, armoured vehicles, missile systems and more. They work in partnership with Israel’s biggest weapons manufacturer, Elbit Systems; the two companies jointly own UAV Tactical Systems (U-TacS). U-TacS operates a military drone factory in Leicester, which predominantly manufactures the Watchkeeper drone, modelled on Elbit’s Hermes 450 drone, which has been routinely used to massacre and surveil the Palestinian people and is marketed as “battle-tested” upon them as a result. The factory also holds several licenses to directly export military drone weaponry to the apartheid state of Israel.
Amongst representatives from the National Health Service (NHS) were senior members of weapons companies and the British Army. Craig Palmer, a senior British army officer who works with Elbit Systems and Thales on deploying the Watchkeeper programme, was also in attendance. Palestine Action occupied Thales’s roof at their Glasgow factory twice last year. More recently, their headquarters in Doncaster was targetted by a Palestine Action Underground group, and today’s disruption continues Palestine Action’s prior claims that all businesses which collaborate with or otherwise facilitate Elbit Systems’ actions will be targeted at their factories, offices, ceremonies and anywhere else.
Other attendees included Irene Ruiz-Gaberne from Airbus Military UK Ltd, Phil Hanson from Maritime and Coastguard Agency Aviation Evolution and Jeremy Hartley from the UK Civil Aviation Authority. All the organisations and companies they represent work with Israel’s Elbit.