Activists shut down Israeli drone weapons manufacturer
A factory making engines for drone aircraft used by the Israeli military in its deadly assault on Gaza has today (5/8/14) been shut down by activists demanding that the facility be closed permanently.
Israel's most recent attacks on Gaza have killed at least 1,800 in a little less than a month, including at least 400 children. Nearly ten thousand have been injured and 550,000 have lost their homes.
The factory near Birmingham is owned by Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military company and the world’s largest drones manufacturer. The company exported drone engines to Israel in 2010, 2011 and 2012, according to protesters. These UK exports are almost certainly being used in the current attacks on Gaza.
The nine activists, from the London Palestine Action network, chained the doors shut and then occupied the roof. They have enough food and supplies to continue the protest for a week.
According to the group's press release, “Drones are a key part of Israel’s military arsenal. By allowing this factory to export drone components and other arms to Israel, the UK government is providing direct support and approval to Israel’s massacres.”
The UK government is also using Elbit's drone technology for its own 'Watchkeeper' weapons programme, in which a new generation of drones for the British military are being manufactured by Elbit in a joint venture with Thales UK.
According to the War on Want report 'Killer Drones', Israel is the single largest exporter of drones in the world, responsible for 41% of all drones exported between 2001 and 2011. The UN Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights has raised concerns that drones lead to disproportionate civilian casualties.
The message from the roof of the Elbit factory is clear: “UK prime minister David Cameron and the UK government have Palestinian blood on their hands. In order to end their deep complicity with Israel’s system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid against Palestinians, they must take steps to impose a full military embargo on Israel and close the Elbit Systems factory immediately.”
Also today, the Conservative Cabinet minister Baroness Warsi resigned over Britain’s ”morally indefensible” support for Israeli military action. “I always said that long after life in politics I must be able to live with myself for the decisions I took or the decisions I supported,” she said in her resignation letter. “By staying in Government at this time I do not feel I can be sure of that.”
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