Pro-Palestinian activists shut down Israeli-owned UAV factory in central England
Pro-Palestinian activists in the UK have staged a protest on the roof of a factory owned by an Israeli-arms manufacturer, to protest the firm's role in building drones reportedly used by the Israeli military.
Members of Palestine Action, a direct-action protest group, chained themselves to the gates of the UAV Tactical Systems factory at the Meridian Business Park, Leicestershire.
UAV Tactical Systems is a joint subsidiary of Israeli weapons giant Elbit Systems, which promotes its technology as "combat-tested" by Israel’s military, and French defence firm Thales.
Leicestershire police said their officers were called to the business park at around 5:30am GMT and that rescue and fire crews also attended the scene.
Protesters reportedly disrupted production at the factory with red paint sprayed on at least one of the factory walls, the BBC reported.
In a statement, the group said it was taking the action "in response to Elbit’s funneling of arms to the Israeli Occupation Force”. It has vowed for their occupation of the factory to be "as disruptive as possible".
Despite police drones & hired security, Elbit in #Leicester remains occupied - drenched in blood-red paint representing the Palestinians killed at the hand of Elbit products #ShutElbitDown pic.twitter.com/Z0AMy5sOVD— Palestine Action (@Pal_action) May 19, 2021
According to the latest figures, Israeli air strikes on the Gaza strip have caused the deaths of 245 Palestinians, including 68 children since May 20, with some 1,500 Palestinians wounded.
Leicester Fire Brigade Union has said they support the activists' right to protest, according to the Leicester Mercury.
A spokesperson for the union said the fire service was requested only to assure their safety and when this was confirmed members "withdrew from the incident".
By 3.30pm GMT protesters still occupied the roof with local police saying that their officers were continuing to engage with the activists and facilitate "peaceful protests" outside the building.
The New Arab has contacted Elbit for comment but received no response by the time of publication.
Palestine Action claims to have caused $1.5 million in damages to Elbit - whose Hermes 900 drone was used extensively in Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza - through direct action against its locations across Greater Manchester and Staffordshire.