UPDATE: Palestine Actionists in London were released, but two Palestine Action detainees – Ronnie Barkan and Stavit Sinai, were denied bail on Monday, 23 May. We will provide updates — in the meantime, please send messages of solidarity to firstname.lastname@example.org
In the past week, the campaign by Palestine Action in Britain to #ShutElbitDown has grown with five actions that have caused significant damage to the Israeli arms manufacturer, which profits from the manufacture and sale of weaponry “battle-tested” on Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Currently, three activists are being remanded in British prison for their participation in these direct action protests after prosecutors noted that Palestine Action’s activities had forced the closure of Elbit’s arms factory in Oldham.
On Sunday, 15 May — Nakba Day — 9 Palestine Action activists stormed Elbit’s Bristol headquarters, smashing equipment and windows, and “destroying the building’s interior, dismantling offices and equipment, and barricading themselves inside, while others blocked road access to the site.”
As Palestine Action noted, “This action takes place on the 74th annual Nakba Day, which commemorates the atrocities perpetrated by Zionist militia, against Palestinians, during the establishment of the modern day State of Israel. In 1948, armed Zionist extremists forcefully displaced more than half the indigenous population of Palestine, massacring many thousands who remained. Palestinians call this historical event the Nakba, which means ‘catastrophe’. Israel’s violent policies of ethnic cleansing, land theft, occupation and siege continue to this day, underpinned by an apartheid system.
Despite Israel’s many documented war crimes, including the recent assassination of the beloved journalist, Shireen Abu Aqleh, the apartheid state has consistently received unwavering support from Western governments. British complicity dates back to the British Mandate over Palestine and the subsequent signing of the Balfour Agreement, in 1917, which put the land of Palestine in the hands of Zionists. Britain continues to support the apartheid regime today via the export of weapons made by Elbit Systems on British soil. Today, we say: it ends now.”
Following this action, 9 were arrested and remanded. While six activists have since been released, three more, including anti-Zionist Israelis Ronnie Barkan and Stavit Sinai and a third Palestine Action activist, will face a new bail hearing on Monday, 23 May, and we urge all activists for Palestine to support the Palestine Action political detainees in Britain and demand their immediate release.
The London headquarters of Elbit at 77 Kingsway was twice targeted by activists. They locked themselves to the doors, dousing the building in red paint and preventing business as usual from taking place. On two more occasions, the landlords that provide space to Elbit, JLL, was hit with red paint and broken windows, highlighting that renting to apartheid arms profiteers is unacceptable.
One activist from the London actions is also detained and needs support in court on Monday, 23 May (details below!)
Palestine Action’s direct actions to confront war profiteers are sending a clear message that there is a price to be paid for continuing to produce, manufacture and profit from the death and destruction targeting the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli occupation. As Palestine Action notes: “74 years of British-backed occupation – it’s time to end complicity. ‘Resistance until victory’ means non-stop action until we’ve Shut Elbit Down.”
To date, multiple attempts to prosecute Palestine Action activists have ended with dropped charges and other victories for the activists, while other cases have so far been delayed. The British prosecutor’s statement urging imprisonment for Palestine Action activists is the first official admission that Palestine Action’s direct action activities forced Elbit’s Oldham factory to close, a fact obvious to all observing the costly damage inflicted by people of conscience determined to put an end to the manufacture of death. As Palestine Action noted, “The [Crown Prosecution Service] is using the success of Palestine Action as a reason to imprison activists.”
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses our strongest solidarity with Palestine Action and joins the demand for the immediate release of the detainees. Here are some actions that you can take to support Palestine Action and the campaign to #ShutElbitDown:
- Court Support Needed!
Support activists facing legal action, including 3 of the Bristol 9 who have been imprisoned after their action:
Monday 23rd May at 10AM (Tomorrow!)
Bristol Crown Court, 9 Small St, Bristol, BS1 1DB
Monday 23rd May at 9.30AM (Tomorrow!)
Westminster Magistrates Court,
181 Marylebone Rd, London, NW1 5BR
Monday 23rd May at 9.30AM (Tomorrow!)
Highbury Corner Magistrates Court,
51 Holloway Rd, London, N7 8JA
- Send your letters and messages of support to the 3 activists who remain in prison. Email them to the Palestine Action support committee at: email@example.com
- Protest to Shut Elbit Down! Join a protest in your area, or join local activists outside Elbit’s factory, UAV Engines in Shenstone, on Tuesday from 11AM at UAV Engines Ltd, Lynn Lane, Shenstone, WS14 0DR
- Get involved with Palestine Action! Make a donation to support Palestine Action’s activities or sign up to learn more or join an action.