Activists occupy Israeli-owned arms factory for 3 days

26th Jul 2019
Activists occupy Israeli-owned arms factory for 3 days

(Photo: Manchester Palestine Action)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Pro-Palestinian activists occupied a five-story weapons factory owned by Elbit Systems, one of Israeli’s largest defence companies in Oldham for 3 days. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) were called to the Ferranti factory just off Greenacres Road at 6.30 am on July 1.

Activists from Manchester Palestine Action (MPA) and the International Solidarity Movement scaled the roof of the building and displayed banners which read ‘Israel is killing protesters every week’ and ‘UK: stop arming Israel. Meanwhile, in Sandwich, Kent, protesters blockaded gates to Elbit’s purpose-built Instro Precision factory. They also spray-painted messages on the windows and a door.

Elbit, Israel’s largest private arms contractor, bought the formerly British-owned Ferranti Technologies for £15 million in 2007. Elbit unmanned aircraft systems (aka drones) have been used extensively against Palestinians; they also manufacture armed remote control boats and military land vehicles.

Elbit produces 85 per cent of all drones used by the Israeli army, including the Hermes 450 and 900 drones which Israeli forces can equip with two air-to-ground missiles, or targeting systems to mark a target for other aircraft to attack. In 2009 Amnesty International reported that Israeli drones were identified as taking part in attacks that killed Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

A confidential Israeli military police report leaked to The Intercept showed how the Israeli operators of a Hermes 450 were responsible for killing four Palestinian children, cousins aged 10-11, playing on a beach during Operation Protective Edge. They killed one child with the first missile fired, and then fired a second missile to kill the remaining three.

In 2014 the Conwy County Peace Group submitted a report on the use drones to Amnesty International. Chair of the group, Donald Saunders, reported that Israel  ‘is a major developer’ of drones around the world and ‘Elbit systemsales – point is that they are a war tested weapon (on Gaza).

Testing of drones in the UK is by Elbit in consortium with French firm Thales with UK Government support and is performed in Wales near Aberporth.
He continues, ‘The legal aspect of their use was considered – outside declared war and armed conflict the use of armed drones for targeted killing a breach of humanitarian law — it is summary execution —  the imposition of a death penalty without charge, trial or conviction.”

Campaigners said they wanted people to ‘wake up and see what’s happening’ in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has seen Israel occupy the West Bank and Gaza Strip for more than 52 years.

Among the activists to scale the factory in Oldham is Adie Mormech who spent two years in Gaza, where he experienced Israel bombing Palestinians during eight days in 2012.
In the summer of 2014 Mormech sadly lost two of his students when Israel’s bombing killed 2,200 Palestinians including 500 children in 50 days.

He said:I was there; I saw it up close. I was a teacher in Gaza for two years. My students were killed. I was talking to one of them not long before. She had two babies.” He added that he wanted to see a “two-way arms embargo” between the UK and Israel. Janet Hawkes, another campaigner, said: “We want to send a message to the UK Government. We want Elbit out of Greater Manchester.


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