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Cymru Peace Coalition shuts down Bristol’s Elbit

Cymru Peace Coalition shuts down Bristol’s Elbit

On Monday, a group of over 100 protesters blockaded two sites of Israel’s largest weapons manufacturer, Elbit Systems, shutting them both down for over 5 hours in spite of a heavy police presence.

“When the government continues to give license to export weapons to a state undertaking ‘probable genocide’, we, the people, must act.” Dai from Newport

The Cymru Peace Coalition moved over the border in the early hours, blockading both Bristol sites at 7 am – stopping all access to the factory and Headquarters through self styled ‘peace pickets’ – arm in arm – effectively halting the business’ operation today.

The controversial Israeli owned weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems supplies 85% of the Israeli army’s drone fleet and military equipment. Its manufacturing sites in Bristol, Leicester and mid-Wales have found themselves repeatedly blocked and shutdown by peace and liberation activists over the last two years for their ‘complicity in upholding the illegal occupation of Palestine through the weapons they manufacture – bomb-carrying drones and small munitions.’

“The genocide in Gaza must be stopped. Workers and trade unionists from across the world must come together to combat the horror that we see unfolding before us.” – UCU Cardiff

Activists holding banners saying “Let Gaza Live”, “stop arming genocide”, and “UK weapons Kill” stood definitely at both sites for over 5 hours.

On Wednesday last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a Valentine’s Day declaration to renew contracts with Elbit Systems using taxpayer money, 2 days after the Netherlands ruled to ban exports of weapons to Israel, citing ‘concerns they were being used to violate international law during the war in Gaza’. The UK government has awarded 25 public contracts, a total of £355m, to Elbit Systems since 2014.

Families for Ceasefire Monmouthshire:

‘The number of children killed in Gaza now outstrips the entire school age population of Monmouthshire. It is incomprehensible that the weapons being made right here on our doorstep are being used in this mass slaughter. Families for a Ceasefire represent the voice of families in Monmouthshire who want to see an immediate end to this war on children and are calling for a permanent ceasefire now. Wales must stop arming the genocide of children and families!’

Campaigners have been calling for the eviction of Elbit from the factory, owned by Sedgemoor District Council, who have come under fire recently in council meetings, where local campaigners argued that profit from the lease of the council premises to Elbit Systems is profiting on the ‘probable genocide in the light of the International Court of Justice’ that Elbit Systems weapons are enabling.

From 11:00 am, police began to amass at the 60-strong picket at Elbit HQ. By 1 pm, around 40 police officers were moving to surround the blockade. Despite a tense standoff, the police’s message to protesters was completely drowned out by song and chanting. With much support from passing motorists and neighbouring businesses, the Peace Picket moved into the road before dispersing. Police were left perplexed and unable to act; no arrests were made.

Retired Paramedic R.L.Evans (RN) from Swansea, who joined the picket, said ‘Having worked as an Emergency Nurse Paramedic in Gaza and been shot at whilst working on critically injured women and children, I was horrified to learn the bullets and bombs were from Britain. My country.’

On Wednesday, UK politicians will come together again to vote on whether to ‘support a ceasefire’ in Gaza.

A Spokesperson for the Cymru Peace Coalition said:

‘We urge everyone to take action now – the Israeli regime takes hundreds of civilian lives every day, thousands have been taken through this decades long apartheid. We stand for Palestinian liberation. Brick by brick, wall by wall – Israeli apartheid has to fall. Start dismantling it with us.’

With hundreds of thousands of people up and down the country demonstrating weekly, growing participation in boycott and divestment actions targetting companies supporting the IDF, and news of an ‘impending humanitarian catastrophe’ in Rafah, it remains to be seen whether politicians and corporations will join the international outcry for an end to the violence in Gaza.

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