As Israel continues its assault on Gaza, in the UK direct action group Palestine Action is calling for people to mobilise against British companies complicit in the Israel’s apartheid and carnage against the Palestinian people.
Palestine Action: a history of direct action
For years, Palestine Action has been taking direct action against British companies that supply weapons, or components of them, to the Israeli state. For example, in September 2022 the group shut down UAV Engines Ltd, which is owned by Elbit Systems. UAV specialises in making engines for combat drones. Palestine Action said that:
Elbit openly market these as ‘battle-tested’ on the Palestinian population. The Hermes 450 aircraft has been used to surveil and attack the people of Gaza for over a decade, decimating thousands of lives.
This is despite attempts by the company, and the government, to deny that the Israeli military uses UAV Engines’ products. However, an Information Commission Office investigation revealed that UAV Engines holds a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with the Israeli military, stopping it from saying it supplies to them.
In September 2022, cops arrested ten activists who were protesting against UAV. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) eventually charged two of them. However, a judge acquitted them, agreeing that Palestine Action’s tactics in this case were proportionate compared to what UAV’s products would end up doing to Palestinian people.
Elbit Systems: a legitimate UK target
This is just one example of how Palestine Action actively resists the Israeli apartheid. The group’s main target has always been Elbit Systems. It’s an Israeli weapons company that works out of the UK. As Palestine Action said in a press release, its:
main target has hitherto been Elbit Systems and their affiliates. Elbit Systems are a mainstay of the occupation and its aggression: manufacturers of 85% of Israel’s drone fleet – without which these assaults on Gaza would be much limited, sole supplier of its small-calibre ammunition, and responsible for producing a range of ‘battle tested’ munitions, high-explosive rounds, and mortar bombs.
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The group has been relentless in targeting the company:
Elbit have seen their British operations undermined continually for the past three years, with Palestine Action having refused to allow them a quiet moment. We have shut down two of their factories and cost them hundreds-of-millions in now-voided Ministry of Defence contracts.
Now, amid the chaos unfolding in Gaza and the Occupied Territories, it’s calling on people to mobilise further.
Palestine Action has created a list of 50 companies that it intends to target in the UK. They are organisations that the group says are “complicit in Elbit’s murderous arms trade”. It has created a website where people can find out where these companies are based. You can view the website here.
It said in a press release that:
We acknowledge that no company can operate in isolation. Elbit relies on a broad, complex supply chain and each facilitator of its crimes against the Palestinians plays their own part in the bloodshed – from office suppliers to logistics, landlords to recruiters. These companies willingly partner with, and profit on the back of, Elbit Systems and its business of bloodshed. By enabling this company to operate in Britain, their partners are accountable for the cruelty and suffering conducted with Elbit weaponry. Murderous drone strikes in Gaza, imperialist border-security operations in the US, EU, and Britain, and weapons exports to regimes including Myanmar and Azerbaijan: these are the activities enabled when companies align themselves with Elbit Systems.
On top of this broadening of target companies, the group has also launched a new initiative. It’s encouraging people to set up their own, “autonomous” groups. Palestine Action has created the “Underground Manual”, where it explains how to set up your own group and how to take direct action. You can read the manual here as a pdf.
‘Direct action’ against ‘any friends’ of Israeli apartheid
Palestine Action summed up its new initiatives by saying:
For those of us in Britain, the US, EU, and elsewhere, we have the privilege, and it could be said the obligation, of taking direct action against Israel’s weapons factories. These factories are placed in companies allied with the occupation regime, with both the host country and Israel profiting from the production of weaponry either bound for, or developed upon, Israel’s genocidal occupation.
Listed companies include the likes of Kuehne + Nagel, providers of shipping services for Elbit; Fisher German, property managers for Elbit’s UAV Engines factory in Shenstone; ADS Group, an arms industry body of which Elbit is a member, and similar such participants in their criminal enterprise. Targets will remain on the list until they make a public statement announcing they have permanently cut all ties with Elbit. Until that point, direct action will continue against any and all friends of apartheid.
The group’s latest pushback against companies complicit in Israel’s apartheid is probably going to cause uproar from some people. The state will likely clamp down hard on the group – given, for example, it’s now talking of restricting people’s right to wave the Palestinian flag.
However, whatever the UK authorities do to people taking direct action, it pales in comparison to the horror the apartheid Israeli state has been, and continues to, mete out against Palestinians.
If you would like any further information on Palestine Action, please contact info[at]palestineaction.org
Featured image via Palestine Action
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