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Lady Gaza comes to Melbourne

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"Lady Gaza" (photo: WACA)

“Lady Gaza” (photo: WACA)

The Melbourne Palestine Action Group, a group consisting of Whistle Blowers Australian Citizens Alliance (WACA) and Renegade Activists, locked down Elbit Systems in the suburb of Port Melbourne and occupied the building’s roof for a few hours.

Arriving at the site at 5 in the morning, the activists erected a replica of Israel’s apartheid wall at the site’s entrance, locking the gates of Elbit Systems and disrupting what otherwise would have been a regular workday.


The Melbourne Palestine Action Group target Elbit August 15, 2014 (photo:WACA )

Jacob Grech from the Renegade Activists explained that the aim of the action was not to ‘warm the coldness of the politicians’ hearts, but to make Melbournians aware of what is going on in their backyard’. Judging from the extensive news coverage the action received, the mission was accomplished.

Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest military company. It markets its drones around the world as ‘field tested’, which means they have been tried on the captive and occupied Palestinian population under Israel’s illegal military occupation.

‘Most Melbournians would be shocked to learn that a company operating drones that kill women and children in hospitals and schools is operating here’ said Grech.

Elbit provides services and technology to the Israeli army including surveillance equipment and drones. There is evidence documented by various human rights group that drones are used to kill innocent civilians in Gaza. According to Al Mezan Centre, a Palestinian human rights organization, drones have killed more than 1,000 Palestinian in Gaza between 2000-2010.

With the rapid growth of the Palestinian global solidarity movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel, the pressure is increasing on governments and corporations to divest from Israeli companies, especially those that are directly linked to Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people. 

In Australia, actions like these illustrate the growing frustration the people have with the Australian government’s support for Israel’s violations of human rights.

Speaking for the activists who occupied Elbit’s roof top, Grech said ‘We are calling on the Australian government to end its contracts with Elbit Systems which include all army communications and new Australian Federal Police database’.

In 2010, it was reported that the Australian Federal Police was spending $145 million on a computer policing system supplied by Elbit Australia after being tried and tested in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. The system was to be up and running by 2017.

The Melbourne Palestine Action Group think this should be of concern to all Australians not only because the Australian government is spending money on a company complicit in human rights violations, but also because this company is running command control stations on activists in Palestine and would now have the ability to spy not just on activists but on all Australian citizens.

Reaction to the Elbit Port Melbourne lock down was overwhelmingly positive.  Workers from adjoining warehouses came out to watch the action and later offered to take the activists out for coffee.   They told the activists that they passed by the Elbit site every day but had no idea what it is that Elbit did.  They seemed moved by the action and expressed their support of the protest.  ‘People were genuinely shocked this company is working in their street’ said Grech.



 The non-violent action came to an end when the Australian Police intervened. The activists were charged with trespassing and some may be summoned to court at a later time.

Speaking for the activists Grech was in high spirit as he explained ‘The first step in challenging the masters of war is exposing them because they like to operate in secret.  But we know it is a long way between raising awareness and taking action.  As always when you do a successful action there is the adrenalin rush of the success but that is tempered with the knowledge that people are continuing to die if not of the bombs, than through the siege’.

The group vowed that they will continue to work both as a group and in their personal capacity in solidarity with the people of Palestine until Palestine is free.



Thanks to Ofer Neiman

Samah Sabawi
About Samah Sabawi

Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian-Canadian-Australian writer, commentator and playwright.

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9 Responses

  1. justicewillprevail
    justicewillprevail on August 16, 2014, 2:43 pm

    “Israel may be a relatively small state, but it is the largest per-capita weapons exporter in the world. The Israeli arms companies have the advantage in marketing their products around the world, because they can claim that their products have been tested in actual combat. – See more at:

  2. kadz
    kadz on August 16, 2014, 2:50 pm

    Please have a look at this video on YouTube: 43 Shocking Photos: Left, Germany 1940, Right, Gaza 2014 . Share it on, on Facebook, twitter etc and hopefully it would open more world eyes to the Gaza injustice. Thanks

  3. Pixel
    Pixel on August 17, 2014, 12:30 am

    Many thanks for this piece.
    LOVE the title.
    LOVE the activism.
    LOVE young people!

  4. annie
    annie on August 17, 2014, 1:30 am

    this was an amazingly successful action. hats off to our #BDS activist allies in Australia. big hats off.

    The group vowed that they will continue to work both as a group and in their personal capacity in solidarity with the people of Palestine until Palestine is free.

    count me in.

  5. Citizen
    Citizen on August 17, 2014, 7:08 am

    About a year ago Ebit won the contract bid for US southern border surveillance system because “It’s the best.”

  6. just
    just on August 17, 2014, 7:43 am

    Bravo and thank you! Powerful action and visuals! And kudos on “Lady Gaza”!

    in further BDS news:

    “The Agriculture Ministry decided two months ago to divert settlements’ poultry products to markets outside the European Union after the EU imposed sanctions have made it very difficult to send such products to Europe.

    Officials at the foreign and agriculture ministries say that so far no serious economic damage has been done, with diversion to the local market solving the problem.

    On February 17, the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, enacted procedures under which the EU would no longer recognize the authority of Israeli veterinary services for livestock in the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.

    e new procedures have affected other items exported to Europe. According to the daily Maariv this weekend, dairy exporters were also told to separate items coming from settlements from those originating within Israel’s 1967 borders.

    Fish products are expected to be next in line for such treatment. A plant at the Atarot industrial area north of Jerusalem raises fish for export to Europe. Other farmers export decorative fish to Europe. Without veterinary approval these companies will have to find another destinations.

    Senior officials at the foreign and agriculture ministries say diversion to the local market will work for fish as well. Wine is also expected to be included in the new arrangement, but this will cause serious damage because many wineries are located across the 1967 borders. ”

    (diversion to WHAT local market? And the wine thingy is making me heady with joy– how fitting!)

  7. just
    just on August 17, 2014, 8:07 am

    More action :

    “British arms sales to Israel face high court challenge

    The government faces being dragged into the high court over the sale of military hardware to Israel in an unprecedented legal move that puts the UK’s controversial export policy on a potential collision course with the EU.

    Law firm Leigh Day, representing the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), has written to the business secretary, Vince Cable, claiming that the failure by the British government to suspend existing licences for the export of military components to Israel is unlawful as there is a risk that they may have been used in Gaza. It says that it has been instructed to seek a judicial review of the government’s reluctance to suspend licences unless it agrees to stop the export of the components.

    The move puts the UK’s multimillion-pound military export programme in the spotlight when Israel’s actions in Gaza have caused international concern and there is mounting disquiet about the role foreign states are playing in facilitating the conflict, which is now the subject of an uneasy ceasefire.
    “After the slaughter of recent weeks, it beggars belief that the UK government is continuing to allow the export of components which it admits could be part of equipment used by the Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza,” said Ann Feltham, parliamentary co-ordinator at the CAAT. “Such equipment containing UK components has been used in Israeli attacks in the past and the licences should never have been granted in the first place.””

  8. just
    just on August 17, 2014, 8:29 am

    “NSW police try to stop pro-Palestinian protest at Israeli Film Festival

    Police have applied to the supreme court to stop a pro-Palestinian protest at the Israeli Film Festival in Sydney, in a move organisers have described as an attack on their right to protest.

    Palestine Action Group Sydney has organised the protest for Thursday night at Palace cinemas in Oxford Street when the Israeli Film Festival, which is run by the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE), arrives in Sydney.”

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