In August 2019, a group of activists held a two day long ‘siege’ of an Israeli arms company in Sandwich, Kent.
Campaigners entered the factory compound in the early hours of 27 August and remained there for two days. The activists barricaded the gates. And the factory was forced to stop work during the occupation.
One of the protesters told The Canary at the time:
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.
Another campaigner said:
These people arm occupiers, so we are occupying them.
Israel’s largest private arms company
The arms company in question, Instro Precision, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems. Elbit is Israel’s largest privately owned arms and security company, and one of the biggest weapons companies in the world.
Arming Israel’s war crimes
Elbit has also purchased Israeli Military Industries, the sole supplier of small calibre ammunition to the Israeli military. Campaigners believe that this makes the company complicit in the Israeli army’s murder of Palestinian participants in the Great Return March protests at the border wall between Gaza and Israel. Israeli soldiers routinely fire at protesters with live ammunition. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR):
PCHR documented 214 killings by Israel since the outbreak of the protests on 30 March 2018, including 46 children, 2 women, 9 persons with disabilities, 4 paramedics and 2 journalists. Additionally, 14,355 were wounded, including 3,549 children, 382 women, 245 paramedics and 215 journalists
Palestinians calling for a military embargo
The Palestinian Boycott National Committee has called for action against Elbit:
Israel is only able to act with such impunity because governments and companies around the world cooperate with its military and with its military companies. Palestinian civil society has called for a comprehensive and immediate military embargo on Israel. BDS campaigning is starting to have an impact on Israeli military companies such as Elbit Systems.
Arming Turkey’s invasion and dictatorship
During the protests, activists discovered packaging and address labels with the logo of Turkish arms company Aselsan. Stop Elbit says that “this means that Israeli-owned Instro is developing weaponry and / or working with Turkey”.
Calls are being made for the UK to cancel all existing arms exports licenses to Turkey. But so far the British government has only announced a suspension of new arms exports.
‘Machines that incinerate children’
A spokesperson for Stop Elbit-Instro Defendants Solidarity Campaign said in a press release:
The skilled engineers of Elbit-Instro could be working to make the world a better place, yet instead they are employed to build machines that incinerate children. Shame on them all.
A spokesperson for East Kent Campaign Against the Arms Trade said:
We know Instro have been granted export licenses to Turkey in recent years. There are urgent questions about whether Instro’s specialist targeting technology is employed by Israel for targeting Gazan civilians every Friday during the Great Return March civil rights demonstrations, or in maintaining the surveillance of Palestinians along its illegal separation barrier, enabling the occupation’s apartheid infrastructure.
The seven anti-militarist activists arrested during the siege of Instro will have their first hearing today at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court. They are expected to plead not guilty to the charge of aggravated trespass.
It’s anticipated that the full trial will take place next year.
Featured image via Block the Factory used with permission.
- Donate to the Stop Elbit defendants crowdfunding page
- Read about the Palestinian call for a two-way military embargo against Israel
- Read about the call for an arms embargo between the UK and Turkey
- Support Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).
- Join the anti arms trade demonstrations on October 25th against BAE in Bristol, and November 6th against EDO MBM in Brighton
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?