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Upping the ante against Israeli Apartheid

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When nine of us climbed on to the roof of an Israeli drone engine factory last August, Israel’s assault on the besieged Gaza strip was in its’ 28th day. Already 1865 Palestinians were dead, including 430 children, 9567 were Injured, 5500 houses had been destroyed and a quarter of a million – one in six Gaza residents – were refugees.

The offensive would continue for another 23 days, with the death toll rising to 2205 and half a million displaced according to the United Nations. Our action was part of huge mobilisations for Palestine and Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, including 150,000 on the streets of London and copycat rooftop occupations at Thales in Glasgow and Elbit in Melbourne.

UAV Engines, owned by Israel’s biggest arms producer Elbit Systems, and based near Litchfield, manufactures engines for the Hermes 450, Israel’s ‘field tested’ and ‘combat proven’ weapon of choice. Armed drones are increasingly substituting financially and politically expensive F16s, tanks and soldiers on the ground in Israel’s wars.

The decision taken by the CPS to drop charges against us shows us that either Elbit Systems were unwilling to testify in court about their activities or because the UK government was unwilling to comply with the court’s order to disclose information it holds about licenses for arms exports to Israel, or both. The focus of the case was going to be whether or not Elbit were engaged in ‘lawful activity’ at the factory. Our contention was that the entire enterprise and arms trade with Israel are unlawful.

If we had had our week in court, the Judge would have heard expert testimony from Amnesty International, Al Mezan Director Mahmoud Abu Rahma, Channel Four News’ Paul Mason, Norwegian surgeon Dr Mads Gilbert and our own eyewitness testimonies from Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, and Operation Pillar of Cloud in 2012.

Out of a total death toll of 1410 during Cast Lead, death by drone was the key method of killing with 513 people including 116 children killed according to the Al Mezan human rights organisation.

Israel’s next operation – Pillar of Cloud – was launched in November 2012 and lasted eight days. It set a precedent in that it was entirely carried out through aerial bombardment and relied on drone reconnaissance including 14 aerial strikes documented by Human Rights Watch “for which there was no indication of a legitimate military target”.

According to researchers at Drone Wars UK, Operation Protective Edge saw 831 significant strikes in 51 days, not including minor strikes.

Allegations of war crimes and the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure have been leveled at Israel by multiple human rights organisations and international agencies. The charges against us may have been dropped but we still charge Elbit, Israel and the British government with direct perpetration and complicity with crimes against humanity. Israel’s humiliating and collectively punishing blockade of Gaza, as defined by the UN Goldstone Report of 2009, is in its’ tenth year. This in of itself is a daily war crime.

The legal net needs to and will close in on Israeli impunity. Whether it’s the Palestinian Authority taking claims to the International Criminal Court or citizens taking direct action which forces implicated companies to respond – in our case, a silent dropping of our charges – we know that the UK government and these arms companies are running scared.

The de-sensitized, joystick killing that drone operators engage in, one hand on a virtual trigger, the other conceivably in a bag of popcorn, on the other side of the world (RAF Waddington in Lincoln in the case of strikes in Afghanistan) represents a new culture and industry of killing which allows for unaccountability, impunity and desensitization which make mass murder easy, clean, and distant.

History has shown us how separation and bureaucratisation within ideological projects focused on eliminating dissidents and ‘problem populations’ have unfolded. Our fight against militarisation is also the fight against the demonisation and dehumanisation of any group or class.

We hear so much scaremongering from the political Right in this country about ‘home-grown terror’ and how ‘Muslims must do more to stop it’. Well there’s terror being planned and produced right here in the UK just outside Birmingham, but not in a mosque as Fox News could have us believe, but in arms factories, like UAV Engines, equipping Israel to massacre Palestinians in Gaza, and the government is doing nothing to stop it.

Can you really spend two days on the roof of a drone factory, allegedly cost a company thousands in delayed exports and ‘get away with it’? It seems you can and the message from us is, ‘Up the Ante’, take direct action. Echoing Palestinian civil society groups, the UK government needs to shut UAV Engines and impose a two way military embargo on Israel. There is no place for these companies or any trade with Apartheid Israel whilst it continues to violate international law and human rights on an ever more violent scale.

London Palestine Action

London Palestine Action is a network of people in London taking creative action against Israeli apartheid.

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13 Responses

  1. justicewillprevail on February 2, 2015, 1:16 pm

    Hearing about the lineup of witnesses, I would have liked to have heard the arguments in court trying to defend Elbit and its subsidiary. It seems there is a strong case against them, which they were unwilling to defend in public. Not only could they have lost, but they would be exposed for the enabling of mass murder – clearly they haven’t the stomach to defend their actions in the open, but prefer to skulk in the shadows. Keep the pressure up.

  2. American on February 2, 2015, 1:21 pm

    Up the Anty More!!

    Make them take you into court.

    I just saw that Palestines in the US were protesting outside of the AIPAC offices.
    Harass them, stalk them, hassle them, accuse them of war crimes, treason, everything you can throw at them……Out shout them.

    Up it up it up it.

  3. DoubleStandard on February 2, 2015, 2:46 pm

    What do you know in Britain? You colonized half the world, killed millions to do it, and are practically inviting people who want to kill you into your country to atone for your historical “sins.”

    It’s cushy from foggy London, isn’t it? Not so much in sderot.

    The world needs drones and Israel is their largest producer. A few hippie activists cant disrupt massive international commerce.

    • justicewillprevail on February 2, 2015, 8:05 pm

      Yes, people all around the world are saying to each other ‘we need drones, we must have more drones’, and those thoughtful israelis are working night and day to get someone else to make them.. Gosh, those british hippies in the fogge of ye olde London towne are just so out of touch with the world of ‘massive international commerce’. If only they knew what a shining example of charity DubbleTrubble provides, they would surely rush to make them themselves. It is so touching that Israel is so concerned about the drone scarcity that they are practicing at home with them in order to alleviate the suffering of those unfortunate people without them.

    • Marnie on February 3, 2015, 2:35 am

      Instead of producing killing machines, maybe Israel could find less lethal things to produce. So ironic that the ancient israelites were shepherds, farmers (instead of burning/destroying olive trees), vineyardsmen among other things. That describes the life/livelihood of a lot of Palestinians, who are looking more and more to me to be the descendants of the biblical Hebrews than the former Brooklynites and assorted Yankees, South Africans, Russians, French and assorted zionists from all over the UK. Off the topic I went. Sderot? What if Hamas had drones? I bet you’d think a bit more before proclaming “the world needs drones”.

      “A few hippie activists can’t disrupt massive international commerce.” Really now? Did you even read this story? Remember ZIMs adventures in Oakland? SodaStream? How about Egged (Egged subsidiary EBS, had just lost a 320M euro 10-year contract in Haarlem district, Netherlands (Pop 155,000), after some demonstrations against its complicity in apartheid. – See more at: ? There are many, many more examples. That’s the result of grassroots movements, which move mountains.

      Bravo to the hippie activists of London Palestinian Action –

      • piotr on February 3, 2015, 7:52 pm

        On edit: this is about increased unpopularity of Israel in UK and elsewhere.

        I am not sure if this is just Gaza. A title in a Polish news site today: “Israel supports Syrian rebels”, and the text makes it clear that the rebels are al Nusra, i.e. Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. How does a right-wing European react to news like that? Traditional types see another evidence of evil conspiracy, but most seem to follow a more modern view that people in Israel increasingly go nuts. I would need to investigate more how left-wing Europeans react. Also, the readers of seemed to be from “disenchanted right”, kind of like American paleocons, but in Europe they seem more numerous.

        Recall that nixing of the Western intervention in Syria started with the rebellion of Tory backbenchers, and these issues are quite related.

  4. Daniel Rich on February 2, 2015, 5:37 pm

    ‘Upping the ants ante’ worldwide.

    Most of Hollywood is run by …..
    Most of MSM is in the hands of …..
    Diamonds are a girl’s best friend and ‘mazzel’ is said by …

    Therefore, if you say that the current Ukrainian leaders are Jewish, AFP/MSM have no other option but to state that:

    ‘Anti-Semitic sentiment [all Arabs, Muslims & Palestinians fully excluded] remains widespread in Ukraine, where leaders are commonly labelled as Jewish by those seeking to discredit them.” – LINK

    despite the fact that both Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and President Poroshenko are not christian.

    How do you fight information you don’t like?

    Call it a name and be done with it.

    Who needs the truth when lies are smothering you so comfortably?

    • bryan on February 3, 2015, 3:17 am

      ‘Upping the anti-’ worldwide.
      “Call it a name and be done with it.”
      Trouble is we desperately need two names for it and a very precise discrimination in our use of the two terms. One is a bigoted, hateful, irrational hostility to a group of people; the other is a rational, enlightened, civilized distaste for the actions of an army and a government that claims to be the sole and universal representatives of a group of people. Difficult territory isn’t it?

    • JeffB on February 3, 2015, 8:13 am

      I’m not sure what this has to do with anything but..

      Prime Minister Yatsenyuk is a baptized member of the Western Rite Catholic Church in Ukraine (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church). He’s also repeatedly said he’s not Jewish and the chief Rabbi of Ukraine has said he’s not Jewish. He most certainly is a Christian.

      President Poroshenko is a baptized member of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, same as most Ukrainians. To the best of my knowledge there hasn’t been allegations that he is Jewish or religiously interesting in anyway.

      And now can I hear again how BDS is not anti-Semitic?

    • piotr on February 3, 2015, 12:44 pm

      I checked. Poroshenko: listed as Eastern Orthodox, and a former president is a godfather of his younger children, something Jews usually do not ask for. Yatsenyuk is Greek Catholic. Calling disliked public figures “Jewish” is pretty standard in the region (I am familiar with the comments in Polish websites, but I bet that Ukraine is the same).

      OTOH, a bussiness tycoon who funds ultra-nationalist Ukrainian volunteer battalions is Jewish.

  5. piotr on February 3, 2015, 12:34 pm

    [Jacob] dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!

    Headline in ynetnews: UK poll: Israel’s popularity is both growing and declining

    As ascending angels go, asked to name their favorite country, 1% more mentioned Israel than two years earlier, and in the other direction, and asked to name the least favorite country, 18% more mentioned Israel, taking 11% away from Iran, several percent away from Pakistan etc.

    • oldgeezer on February 3, 2015, 1:35 pm

      The debate is becoming ever more polarized and in western nations the trend is not in Israel’s favour. The Palestinian issue is not being confused with the ISIS issue much to the consternation of zionists who want to use it in order to camoflage their crimes against humanity.

  6. Rodneywatts on February 3, 2015, 12:36 pm

    I am glad to see that the younger generation of activists in Britain is every bit as bold and tenacious as was the case in the 60’s. In those times, to be frank, it was the Civil Rights movement in the US that set the standards in the Human Rights arena. Nevertheless the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in Britain did some amazing things and would certainly approve of London Palestine Action.

    The 1960’s also saw the beginning of BDS action against South African Apartheid and here we are once again facing and fighting against an apartheid regime in Israel, supported and upheld by the mighty USA. This time is worse for the palestinians than it was in SA, with the use by Israel of a massively superior weaponry, used utterly disproportionately to enable its theft of palestinian land and oppression of the people –partly by use of Elbit drones.

    The London Palestine Action group, whilst not getting to court to prove absolutely the illegality of UAV’s operations and the complicity of our Government, have provided sufficient basis for probing parliamentary candidates and their parties’ Israel stance in the run up to the May elections.

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