Marking the first anniversary of Israel’s 51 day assault on Gaza last summer, Block the Factory activists in the UK protested at 3 Elbit Systems arms factories in the UK this morning; Elbit’s Elite KL factory in Tamworth, Staffordshire; Instro Precision in Broadstairs, Kent, and a UAV Engines plant at Shenstone, Lichfield, a factory that manufactures and exports drone engines to Israel.
Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest publicly traded weapons company with government military contracts in the US, UK and Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. Their arms are used by Israel to target and massacre civilians in Gaza.
The peaceful actions planned by protesters were met by a heavy police presence at Shenstone’s UVA Engine factory.
Still, the activists successfully shut down the UVA factory for the day.
Several people were arrested:
RT UK cites activist Alex Levan, 31, said organizers had intended the protest to be peaceful.
A variety of campaign groups including War on Want, Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign united under the umbrella movement “Block the Factory” to organize the day of action.
Speaking to RT, activist Alex Levan, 31, said organizers had intended the protest to be peaceful.
“There were lots of police from early on,” he said. “They were very rough, they manhandled protestors, [and] they were very heavy-handed.”
“The idea was to reclaim the space around the factory and to turn it into a real festival environment, a creative activist environment with workshops, with a family space, with arts and crafts.”
“But the police were heavy-handed, they’ve made at least 10 arrests, but there will probably be more. These were completely unprovoked arrests, these were peaceful protests,” he added.
Nearly 30 arrests at our day of action @ Shenstone Elbit arms factory, with aggressive police pushing & kettling activists #StopArmingIsrael
— Block the Factory (@blockthefactory) July 6, 2015
“Israel was only able to massacre 2,200 Palestinians in Gaza last summer because factories like these are allowed to operate and because governments such as the UK government continue to allow arms exports to Israel.
“People have come here from all over the country to show their solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and to demand that the UK government imposes a two-way military embargo on Israel.”