On Thursday 13 January, campaigners announced that – after years of campaigning and direct action – Elbit Systems will be closing its arms factory in Oldham. Three activists who took direct action against the factory are due to appear in court on 20 and 21 January. Campaigners are calling on allies to show their support outside the courtroom. And in London, campaigners are planning a Palestine solidarity protest against ongoing ethnic cleansing in Sheikh Jarrah on Friday 21 January.
Facilitating war crimes
As The Canary‘s Tom Anderson reported, Elbit has decided to close its arms factory in Oldham. This comes after years of local and international campaigns and direct action against the company.
In order to appeal to repressive governments around the world, Elbit Systems markets its weapons and surveillance technologies as “battle-tested” and “field-proven”. Indeed, it is Israel’s largest private arms company, manufacturing 85% of the drones used to kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
In 2013, a Palestinian man from Gaza whose daughter was killed by an Israeli airstrike told Anderson:
Campaigners must prevent these Israeli war crimes that kill our dreams and kill our children. When will it stop?
And in May 2021, while Palestine Action activists were campaigning to shut down Elbit factories in the UK, Israeli forces were engaged in an 11 day air strike on Gaza. According to the United Nations, these strikes killed at least 256 Palestinians.
Drawing attention to the ongoing escalation of Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing and settler-colonialism, Palestinian writer Mohammed El-Kurd tweeted:
PASS IT ON, COPY/PASTE:
Ethnic cleansing in Sheikh Jarrah, the Naqab, Massafer Yatta & across Palestine is escalating.
What you do & say now about what's happening in Palestine will go down in history. Silence & action in these moments equal complicity. #SaveSheikhJarrah
— Mohammed El-Kurd (@m7mdkurd) January 19, 2022
Shutting down Elbit
The closure of Elbit’s Oldham factory represents a symbolic victory in the fight to end British complicity and support for Israel’s violence against Palestinians.
On Thursday 20 January, a judge dismissed the case of three Palestine Action activists who were on trial for occupying the landlord responsible for Elbit’s Shenstone factory. Celebrating the news, Palestine Action shared:
Breaking: Case against 3 Palestine Action activists THROWN OUT by judge in another humiliation for Elbit. Activists who occupied offices of the property managers of Elbit's Shenstone death factory WALK FREE, again defeating Elbit in our second ever trial. More details to follow pic.twitter.com/Uy9GLdmokH
— Palestine Action (@Pal_action) January 20, 2022
However, three different Palestine Action campaigners are still facing criminal charges for their involvement in shutting down Elbit’s Oldham factory in 2021. Urging people to show their support, Palestine Action’s Manchester chapter tweeted:
— Shabbir Lakha (@ShabbirLakha) January 19, 2022
The victories against Elbit in Oldham and Shenstone show that direct action works, so we must continue the fight against British complicity with Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing and settler-colonialism.
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