We are republishing the press release below from Palestine Action, the direct-action group organizing to shut down Israeli arms manufacturers and British companies complicit in the colonization of Palestine. These attacks on Palestine Action activists are part and parcel of the over 100 years of British colonialism and active support for Zionist racism and domination in Palestine, from the Balfour declaration and before to the present day. Palestine Action’s direct action activities are not only extracting a meaningful cost from the arms dealers responsible for taking Palestinian lives on a daily basis, they are providing a new energy to the boycott movement and Palestine solidarity activism globally.
We express our full solidarity with Palestine Action and with all political prisoners in British jails, including Palestinian political prisoner Issam Hijjawi and Irish republican prisoners:
- Six police raids have been conducted against local activists who opposed the arms fair, including the two who scaled and occupied the roof of the ACC Arena, Liverpool – the venue for the AOC 2021 Liverpool Arms Fair. Further raids were conducted in houses of activists in the vicinity.
- Four homes were raided in the middle of the night, with three of the homes raided containing young children. Two of these raids were conducted against people who simply had cans of spray paint on them.
- Further police harassment included the arrest of a close acquaintance of one of the activists who scaled the roof for reasons unknown, the seizure of cash, the confiscation of books and posters. Palestine Action are accustomed to these harassment tactics by police, who are desperate to intimidate individuals and prevent further disruption to the conferences of multi-millionaire arms dealers.
- The two activists who had occupied the ACC Arena’s roof have now been released, under bail conditions which prevent a return to the Liverpool docks or association with one another.
Police have conducted a number of raids against individuals involved – or merely in the vicinity of – the Palestine Action scaling and occupation of the ACC Arena, which was hosting the 2021 AOC Arms Fair in Liverpool. Palestine Action occupied the building roof to disrupt the arms fair, with two activists remaining on the roof for over a day and a half.
Six homes have been raided – three of which were family homes containing young children. Four of the raids took place in the middle of the night, with two activists having their homes raided after being found with only cans of spray paint on them. During these raids, items confiscated included a Palestine flag, books (some of which were taken simply because they had Arabic in them), personal devices, posters, and cash. One of these activist’s partners had been arrested, for reasons unknown, subsequently released under bail.
Police maintained a heavy presence around the arms fair from Monday onwards – unable however to stop the activists from scaling the ACC building. Following their reaching the building roof, Merseyside Police implemented a ‘dispersal zone’ around the entire Liverpool Waterfront area – which again was unable to prevent Liverpool residents turning up en-masse to protest the fair’s presence in their city.
The harrassment by police of those merely in the Arena’s vicinity comes as no surprise, with Palestine Action activists regularly experiencing late night raids and other intimidation tactics (including the regular seizure of personal belongings). Merseyside Police have demonstrated an incredible commitment to welcoming war criminals, mass murderers, and weapons manufacturers to their city – but have not extended any such courtesy to the residents of their city who are standing up for human rights.
Palestine Action and Liverpool residents were disrupting the arms fair to protest the city’s hosting of war criminals and arms dealers – with the ACC Arena being owned and operated by the council. A number of firms – including Raytheon, Elbit Systems, ELTA, L3Harris and more – were due to attend or present at the event. These firms have direct ties to war crimes committed in Palestine, Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere – with a total of four Israeli weapons firms and 13 weapons firms which supply Israel’s repression of Palestinians in attendance.
On Sunday night, police raided an activist’s room in the Pullman hotel, which was hosting many of the event’s attendees. These two activists have since been released. The two activists who occupied the ACC Arena have also since been released, under bail conditions which prevent them from associating with one another or returning to the Liverpool docks.
Tom, one of the activists who scaled the roof of the #Liverpool arms fair, shares why direct action is a necessity – not a political choice. To drive arms dealers out of our streets, join Palestine Action and #ShutElbitDown pic.twitter.com/IucmZhgm4U
— Palestine Action (@Pal_action) October 12, 2021
Palestine Action is a direct-action network of groups and individuals formed with the mandate of taking direct action against Elbit Systems’ UK locations at grassroots level, calling for them all to be shut down and for the British government to end its complicity in Israeli apartheid.
- Palestine Action take action against the DSEI arms fair, London (12/09/21) https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210920-apologies-and-compensation-are-simply-not-good-enough-for-the-victims-of-drone-attacks/
- Palestine Action take action against the Liverpool arms fair (11/09/21): https://palestineaction.org/liverpool-arms-fair/
- A Palestine Action activist on why he takes action against Elbit Systems: https://tribunemag.co.uk/2021/06/why-we-took-direct-action-against-apartheid/