Debate within the Jewish community was furious and heartbreaking. But as tensions rose in our own communities, we could never imagine what it was like in Gaza during those weeks.
By the end of the 51 day assault, over 2,200 Palestinians were dead, including 490 children. 73 Israelis were killed. 20 000 Palestinian homes were destroyed. 500 000 Palestinians were displaced. Gaza is still struggling to pick up the pieces.
This week will mark the 1st anniversary of the invasion. On July 6th people from all over the UK will descend on Elbit Systems, an arms factory near Birmingham which manufactures drones. Drones which ended up in Gaza, part of the high tech weapons offensive that decimated the 360km region in which 1.8 million Palestinians live, damaging or destroying 62 hospitals and clinics (killing 23 medical workers), 45 ambulances, 250 Palestinian schools and the only civilian power plant in Gaza.
Drones are ‘Unmanned aerial vehicles’ (UAVs) – aircraft either controlled by “pilots” from the ground or, increasingly, autonomously following a pre-programmed mission. While official claims are made for the accuracy of the strikes, there have been high numbers of civilian casualties besides the intended victim. Even in the latter cases, it is a death penalty imposed without a trial. Elbit is Israel’s largest arms producer. Its portfolio includes systems for military aircraft and helicopters, drones, armed remote control boats and land vehicles.
Elbit describes its drones as “the backbone” of Israel’s drone fleet. These drones were extensively used by the Israeli military in the 2014 attack, ‘Operation Protective Edge’. As British Jews we are horrified by the continued occupation of Palestinians and the UK’s complicity. On the 1st anniversary of the assault, campaigners and groups have called for a mass public action to demonstrate against ‘Elbit’ systems.
Throughout the devastating assault last summer, millions of people across the world were mobilised to take action. One year later, Gaza is not in the headlines anymore, but the people are still being systematically oppressed and denied fundamental human rights.
We are British Jews who are proud to support the national demonstration against the Israeli arms company Elbit systems on July 6th. We call on all people of conscience to stand up for justice and equality and to support the call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions.
As British Jews we say never again, for anyone.
For more information see:
Facebook: Manchester Jewish Action for Palestine
Campaign Against Arms Trade: https://www.caat.org.uk/resources/mapping/organisation/5233
Block The Factory: https://www.blockthefactory.org/
Corporate Watch Elbit Systems: http://www.corporatewatch.org/company-profiles/elbit
Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS: http://www.bdsmovement.net/call
End the two way arms trades between Israel and the UK: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/04/manchester-justice-palestinians