In a massive blow to its operations, Israeli weapons company Elbit Systems has been forced to abandon its chique London headquarters, thanks to sustained pressure from Palestine Action.
The final blow came earlier this month after activists threw red paint over the office and blockaded its entrance. This comes on top of the news that in January, Elbit Systems had decided to sell their arms factory in Oldham, U.K., at a significant loss, after the site was repeatedly occupied by the same group.
Today, Lowkey speaks to one of the co-founders of Palestine Action, Huda Amori. Originally from Bolton (around 12 miles from Oldham), Amori is Palestinian-Iraqi. Her father was chased from his home by Israeli soldiers in 1967.
“This is a company whose whole business model is based on the destruction of Palestine,” she told Lowkey, adding:
Elbit Systems was founded in Israel in 1966. And the main reason they were founded was to aid the dispossession, displacement and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Since then, they have continued to develop their weapons on the occupied people of Palestine. These weapons are often built in part or in full here in Britain, in our towns and cities across Britain and then are shipped off across the world to be used by other repressive regimes. Elbit systems manufacture 85% of Israel’s military drone fleet. These drones are constantly used to entrench the Apartheid system over the captive population in Gaza, used to surveil, attack and murder Palestinians.”
One of the world’s largest arms manufacturers, Elbit produces much of the Israeli Defense Forces’ machinery and ammunition and markets its products around the world as “battle tested” on Palestinians.
Its products are sold globally, notably to the Indian military, helping their efforts to occupy Kashmir, and to British law enforcement, who are using the company’s facial recognition software.
“Whenever you see an attack on Palestinians, 99% of the time you can trace that back to Elbit Systems. If they are not producing the whole weapon, they are producing parts of it,” Amori said.
Despite the significant material and reputational damage done to Elbit Systems, the company is extremely hesitant to take Palestine Action activists to court.
The company finds itself in a lose-lose scenario whereby not prosecuting those practicing direct action against it encourages more of the same but doing so risks a barrage of negative publicity and scrutiny, plus the chance that a jury will side with Palestine Action, as has happened before. As Amori said,
We wanted to get Elbit in court. We wanted to expose their crimes. And we knew that whatever happened, we could argue our case and we wanted to turn it around onto Elbit’s crimes because that is the reason we take action. This company shouldn’t be allowed to be here in the first place.”
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