Freedom News

Coordinated blockade hits 3 arms factories

Ongoing: Today, Freedom is at the blockade Instro Precision in Kent – the factory making arms industry equipment. We spoke to a worker who had helped organise the action with his union:

“This action is an opening of a new front of workplaces for the struggle for Palestinian liberation. We’re shutting down this arms factory today, which manufactures scopes and targeting equipment for the Israeli military. This equipment is sold to Israeli; it’s sold to Saudi Arabia and 50 other countries. It’s currently being used to blow up Gaza. We call on workers to shut down their workplaces, shut down their factories until the UK government presses for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.”

Both entrances to the factory have been blockaded since 7 a.m., with 150 people between them, despite heavy rain. No delivery vehicles are being let through. The police had a lacklustre response, with two vehicles with a copper in each, arriving an hour after the blockage began and allowing the protest to continue. 

The site has faced protests for years and has previously been occupied by Palestine Action. Instro Precision is owned by Israel’s largest weapons firm, Elbit Systems, and specialises in military-grade electro-optical equipment for target location. Instro has been a long-time supplier of the Israeli military regime, with dozens of active and expired military export licenses representing the depth of their collaboration with the Israeli occupation. These licenses include ML5b surveillance/target acquisition systems – namely the XACT th64 sights, which Instro have sold in quantities of thousands to Israel, likely outfitting their sniper regiments manning the Gaza border – along with components for military ground vehicles (ML6a), and other military electronic equipment (ML11).

Meanwhile, In Leicester, a Palestine Action activist attached themselves to a lock on, blockading the only entrance to the UAV Tactical Systems (U-TacS) military drone factory, owned by Israel’s Elbit Systems and French arms firm Thales. After Palestine Action crashed a van through the factory gates last week, three activists were arrested after confronting the factory to halt its weapons production. At the same time, just metres away within the Meridian Business Park, another team scaled and occupied the factory roof of Howmet Fastening Systems, halting the production of components for Israel’s F-35 fighter jets. Whilst positioned on the roof, activists from Palestine Action have begun disarming the factory with sledgehammers.

U-TacS specialises in manufacturing military drone technologies, which it exports in huge volumes yearly to Israel. Israel is not a customer of U-TacS’ flagship product, the Watchkeeper, meaning that these exports will almost certainly be components for the closely modelled Hermes. In previous bombardments of Gaza, Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 drones played a prominent role. Either dropping explosive payloads for bombing strikes, in the case of the Hermes 900, or by providing targeting for guided missile strikes, in the case of the 450, these drones are responsible for vast numbers of Palestinians killed. They are certain to be playing a role in the current genocidal terrorism being committed by the Israeli military. 

Howmet, U-TacS’ neighbour, is a spin-off of Arconic Incorporated, which knowingly made the faulty, lethal cladding for Grenfell Tower. On its website, Howmet proudly boasts of the use of its fastening systems in building the F-35 Lightning II, a stealth fighter jet used by Israel to bombard Gaza, and in particular, its work on the F-35 Engines, for which Howmet Aerospace Engine Bolts are exclusively made in Leicester. The F-35, estimated to be 15% British-made, has been deployed extensively in recent airstrikes to devastating effect.  In the past two weeks, over 5,000 Palestinians have been massacred by Israel, with the vast majority of those dead being killed by airstrikes.

These actions represent the strength in numbers of those willing and ready to take direct action to shut down the Israeli war machine – while our politicians and media rally behind Israel’s criminality, the grassroots movement against Israel’s war machine sees people power as the only way to stand against genocide. This week has seen this movement spread rapidly. As Palestine Action US launches with the first actions against Elbit in Boston, MA, activists in Australia have similarly escalated their activity against Elbit in Melbourne.

Feature and last images: Guy Smallman

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