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Activists drive Israeli weapons firm recruiters out of Manchester office

Activists drive Israeli weapons firm recruiters out of Manchester office

Palestine Action forced out iO Associates, the sole recruiters for Elbit Systems UK, from their new Manchester offices in the Express building. The news came after Palestine Action activists targeted the site over 45 days, culminating in an action on Monday 9th October, when the Express building was covered in blood-red paint. It also coincides with the ongoing bombardment and full blockade of Gaza, where 2.3 million captive Palestinians live. 

Elbit Systems manufactures 85% of Israel’s military drone fleet, not only arming the Israeli military with these drones and developing the technology but also operating the drones alongside the military, directly assisting them in their attacks. They also supply the Israeli military with land-based equipment, bullets, tank components, rocket launchers and more. Most of their weaponry is marketed as “battle-tested” after being developed on the captive population of Gaza. 

The day after iO Associates announced their expansion of ‘defence recruitment‘ into Manchester, activists from Manchester Palestine Action stormed the office to demand the company stop recruiting for Elbit. Shortly after, iO Associates removed most of Elbit’s job offers from their website. A few weeks later, after iO associates reposted the Elbit job openings, activists from both Palestine Action and the Youth Front for Palestine (YFFP) stormed the offices once again, reiterating the message that Elbit recruiters are not welcome in the city. 

On Monday 9th October, an escalation in the campaign saw four of iO associates offices, including the Express building, sprayed in blood-red paint, symbolising the bloodshed of the Palestinian people spilt by Elbit’s weaponry. The day after, Palestine Action saw an internal email from Huckletree, the workspace manager, on Tuesday 10th October, to all workers in the building, stating that the latest action was the final straw that quickly kicked iO associates out of the office block. The email says that in response to the action on the 9th October and the changing situation in Gaza, ‘IO Associates will no longer be using the Huckletree office.’

The swift move to eject Elbit’s recruiters reaffirms the direct action strategy against companies complicit with Israel’s weapons trade, which Palestine Action employs. To expand the campaign against complicit firms in light of the massacres in Gaza, Palestine Action released over 50 targets alongside a guide on taking covert action yesterday. iO associates remain listed as a target as they continue to recruit for Israel’s largest weapons manufacturer.

A spokesperson for Palestine Action said: ‘Driving Elbit’s recruiters out of their Manchester office is an example to all who stand against military occupation and apartheid of tangible steps that can be taken in solidarity with the Palestinian people. It has never been clearer that companies working with Israeli weapons firms like Elbit Systems are deeply complicit in spilling Palestinian blood. All complicit firms must immediately declare they’ve ended all links with Elbit, or they will continue to be a target of Palestine Action’s campaign.’

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