Charges dropped against activists who occupied Israeli arms factory for two days

Protestors on top of Elbit roof with banner
Emily Apple

Seven people who squatted an Israeli arms factory in Kent for two days have had their charges dropped. As The Canary previously reported, they entered the factory compound in the early hours of 27 August and remained there for two days. The activists barricaded the gate, forcing the factory to stop work during the occupation.

Instro Precision is owned by Elbit Systems. Elbit is Israel’s largest privately owned arms and security company, and one of the biggest weapons companies in the world.

The Stop Elbit activists were facing trial for aggravated trespass, an offence which carries a maximum sentence of three months imprisonment. They were planning to argue that their actions were necessary and lawful due to the weapons produced at the factory. And they believe the charges were dropped because the company doesn’t want to face the scrutiny of a trial.

Killing civilians and children in Gaza

According to the Stop Elbit press release:

Elbit provides 85% of Israel’s drones, used to attack Gaza’s civilian population repeatedly. Drones were used during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge which killed over 2200 Palestinian civilians in Gaza, including over five hundred children. Further, Elbit components have been used by Israel to kill hundreds of protesters in Gaza, who are protesting for their basic human rights, as part of the Great March of Return.

The protesters say that some of the information regarding the equipment sold to Israel has only become public after they asked for disclosure for the trial:

During the course of these legal proceedings, the Defence had demanded disclosure from Elbit’s Kent-based Instro Precision factory relating to its involvement in the manufacture of weapon sights and gun scopes, components and add-ons for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) and targeting systems for tanks. Last month Instro Precision publicly acknowledged its involvement by adding a number of these items to its online product brochure for the first time (all models are known to be in service with the Israel Defense Force).

A spokesperson for Stop Elbit-Instro Defendants Solidarity Campaign said in a previous 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.

What are they hiding?

Both the defendants and their solicitor believe that there are questions over why the charges were dropped. One of those whose charges were dropped, Susannah Mengesha, said:

It is not yet clear what meetings have taken place. But, we can only conclude that the CPS dropped all charges against us because somebody doesn’t want the full extent of information about the deadly weapons Instro is producing to become public

And their solicitor, Lydia Dagostino from Kellys, also raised concerns about the factory:

This is not the first time that cases against activists have been dropped at Instro Precision Ltd (Elbit). It begs the question – what on earth is going on inside this factory that the company doesn’t want to be the subject of scrutiny?

The Canary contacted Instro Precision for comment but had not received a reply at the time of publication.

The campaign continues

Activists have vowed to continue the campaign against the factory. Meanwhile, campaigners organise across the country to protest against this deadly trade. It’s down to all of us to stand up and tell arms dealers that their deals in death are not done in our names.

Featured image used with permission

Get involved

  • Support Block the Factory.
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