What is Elbit hiding?

Two rooftop protests and no arrests. East Kent CAAT reports on the campaign against Israeli arms manufacturer Eblit System’s factory in Broadstairs, and asks: just what does Elbit have to hide?

Last year, we found out that we had an Elbit factory on our doorstep – Instro Precision, based in Broadstairs. This year we shut it down – twice. Both times, we put four people on the roof, D-locked a neck to the main gates, draped banners down the building, turned away deliveries, leafletted the local population and alerted media outlets. The workers were told to keep away for the day – both days.

In February, they tolerated the bad publicity and loss of business. Not one of the protesters was arrested. We wondered why: it is hardly usual for blockaders to be allowed to shut a factory down.

So we thought we’d see how much Elbit and the police would tolerate.

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Stop Elbit: Kent activists rooftop occupation of an Israeli drone factory

On 17 February 2015, members of East Kent Campaign Against Arms Trade were among several groups who staged a rooftop occupation of a local arms factory. The action was hugely successful, receiving widespread media coverage and extensive local support. You can see a video report of the day here. Here, one of the activists gives her account of the day.

Protesters on the roof at a Kent arms company site

For 13 hours last Tuesday, we occupied the rooftop of a factory owned by the Israeli army’s drone supplier, Elbit Systems. We hung enormous banners advertising Elbit’s role in Israel’s war crimes, took phone calls from the press and pitched a tent against the cold.

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East Kent CAAT target Barclays

Canterbury activists from the new East Kent CAAT group have been targeting Barclays over their shares in Israeli Arms company Elbit systems,.

Barclays have been hit by a string of protests from activists across the country over their shares in Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems. Elbit make 85% of the drones used by the Israeli military, and it’s armed drones are used by the Israeli army in daily surveillance and attacks in Gaza.

10404923_947009095318238_6906227602453814054_n (1) Continue reading “East Kent CAAT target Barclays”

UK drone exports – a peek behind the curtain

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This guest post comes from Chris Cole of Drone Wars UK and focuses on the UK drone industry. You can find out more at www.dronewars.net

Drones, or as the industry prefers to call them unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are the latest ‘must have’ weapon system and many countries are seeking to acquire or develop various types of military drones. While Israeli and US companies dominate the drone export market(and are also involved in lobbying efforts to ‘relax’ the international controls on their export), drones are increasingly been seen by the UK arms industry as a growth area and already a number of smaller niche companies have been swallowed up by the big guns.

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Arms export controls are broken

From Israel to Hong Kong, the arms export controls system is broken.

The UK’s arms export policy rarely comes under as much scrutiny as it did this summer. As Israel launched its devastating attacks on Gaza which were to leave more than 2,000 dead, over 500 of them children, the UK’s arms sales and military collaboration with Israel were challenged from all sides.

Protesters occupied the roof of Israeli drones manufacturer Elbit Systems, shutting it down for two days.
Protesters occupied the roof of Israeli drones manufacturer Elbit Systems, shutting it down for two days.

 

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UK must stop arming Israel

Protesters occupy Elbit Systems factory in Birmingham
Protesters occupy Elbit Systems factory in Birmingham

Last month Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, pronounced on Russia’s support for separatists in Ukraine: “They have been supplying them, they have been supporting them… They cannot deny their responsibility for the acts that these people are carrying out.”

He is right, but the same could be said of the UK’s support for Israel in the bombardment of Gaza.

Since 2010 the UK government has licensed £42 million worth of military equipment to Israel, including targeting systems and drone components. Even the UK government’s own review found 12 licences for components that may well have been used in the bombardment of Gaza.

The government’s response to its own review was shocking. It said it would suspend the licences only if ‘significant’ hostilities resumed. Yet even when Israel renewed its attacks on Gaza, with a further seven days of conflict, it did not do so. Continue reading “UK must stop arming Israel”

Let’s talk about ‘legitimacy’, Science Museum

The Science Museum justified its plans to host a ‘welcome reception’ for arms dealers from Farnborough International by telling us that Farnborough International was a ‘legitimate organisation’.

So I went to Farnborough this week and saw what ‘legitimate’ looks like.

It was the most surreal and chilling day I have ever experienced. But for the arms dealers and military buyers attending, it was just business as usual.

I stood by the glossy stands of Israeli arms companies, promoting ‘battle-tested’ weaponry with slick videos of missile strikes and drone attacks, while outside, in the real world, the death toll in Gaza mounted.

Elbit stand at Farnborough 2014
Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems at Farnborough 2014.

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The ‘arms for dictators’ scandal isn’t new. It is cross-party, well-established and has been going on for too long

The British government actively promotes the Eurofighter Typhoon to foreign government. This scene comes from  the Farnborough arms fair in 2012.
The British government actively promotes the Eurofighter Typhoon to foreign governments. This scene comes from the Farnborough arms fair in 2012.

The fringe issue of arms export criteria became headline news today (17 July),  with The Independent’s splash on an “‘arms for dictators” scandal. A parliamentary report by the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) raised a few eyebrows, but the embarrassment of the government approving arms sales to 25 out of 27 of the countries blacklisted as human rights abusers will soon vanish.

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London CAAT visits Brighton to support Summer of Resistance

London CAAT outside Brighton Free Radio London CAAT display their banner outside Radio Free Brighton.

London CAAT group took a day trip to Brighton to support Smash EDO’s “Summer of Resistance”.

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Citizen’s weapons inspection at Brighton arms factory

Smash EDO march with banner reading "Brighton Citizen's Weapons Inspection Team"
Photo courtesy of Smash EDO

This week I travelled down to Brighton to take part in the Smash EDO citizens weapons inspection of the EDO/ITT factory. My protest buddy and I, armed with waterproofs and jelly babies, met the demonstration in the centre of Brighton and were given ‘weapons inspector’ outfits and face masks as well as legal advice on the protest.

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