Anti-arms protesters take action saying, ‘these people arm occupiers, so we are occupying them’

Elbit occupation
Fréa Lockley

Anti-arms protesters have shut down an Israeli-owned arms factory in Kent. The factory belongs to Instro Precision, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, which is a “private Israeli weapons company”. It’s also “one of the world’s biggest arms companies” that supplies “to some of the worst military regimes around the world”.

“Arms dealers live in comfort, profiting from murder”

Activists occupied the factory gates early on 27 August.

They also called for people to take action against the Kent business park where the factory is based:

Justine, one of the protesters who’s currently locked on to the factory gates, told The Canary:

We’ve occupied and barricaded Instro’s grounds to try to stop the company from making weapons which kill our friends in Palestine. I’m disgusted that arms dealers live in comfort, profiting from murder.

James, another activist, said:

These people arm occupiers, so we are occupying them.

As The Canary reported, protesters also occupied two Elbit factories in July:

“End… the racist occupation” 

Elbit’s products, including drones and security systems, have been widely used by Israeli forces against Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. It’s also been accused of:

trying to increase its profits from its experience of intensifying Israel’s siege of Gaza.

As Justine said:

I have been to Palestine. I met a ten-year-old boy from Gaza who was shot in the eye by an Israeli sniper. The bullet came out of his brain. I’ve seen old people being humiliated at apartheid checkpoints and I’ve seen Israeli soldiers crouch on street corners with live ammunition waiting to shoot Palestinian youths. We will continue to blockade the arms companies for an end to the racist occupation and for a free Palestine.

Profit from arms

As Corporate Watch notedElbit Systems is “Israel’s largest privately-owned arms and ‘security’ company”. Elbit advertises its products as “mature and battle-proven”. The multi-billion-dollar Israeli company reported pre-tax profits of $306.7m in the last quarter of 2018.

Investigate reported that:

Elbit manufactures several… weapons… considered controversial under the laws of war because of their inability to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants – a core tenet of international humanitarian law. These include weaponized white phosphorus, cluster bombs, and flechette projectiles.

The company also sells products around the world to countries with far-right governments and appalling human rights records. This includes Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt, and Syria. In 2014:

it used its experience providing electronics to the West Bank and Gaza apartheid walls to win a contract with the US to develop surveillance towers on Arizona’s border with Mexico.

Stop Arming Israel

This action comes ahead of the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair. This takes place every two years at London’s ExCeL centre. Elbit’s also exhibiting at this year’s event:

Activists on the ground told The Canary that they’ve barricaded all gates at the Kent factory. They’ve officially squatted the site and plan “to stay for as long as they can”.

Solidarity to all involved.

Featured image via Block the Factory used with permission.

Get involved

  • Support Block the Factory.
  • Stop the Arms Fair is organising protests from 2 September against DSEI – one of the world’s biggest arms fairs.
  • Support Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us