Direct action gets the goods - #39
"One down, nine to go" -- Palestine Action shuts its first Elbit factory for good.
As I write this on Monday evening, Palestine Action campaigners have just concluded their latest direct action against a drone engines factory in the Midlands owned by Israeli firm Elbit.
And this time they have upped the ante, with some simply astonishing videos emerging — what the group is describing as their raid on the factory.
Emboldened by several recent victories in their campaign, activists on Monday began attempting to literally dismantle Elbit’s Shenstone drone factory near Birmingham, brick by brick.
Palestine Action said in a press release that their activists had “broken into the factory interior, filling it with paint and smoke and damaging property below.”
They said that the exterior of the factory had been “severely damaged — red paint was sprayed on the walls, gutters broken, rooftop windows broken into and high-value air conditioning units were knocked off, rendering the factory inoperable for the foreseeable future.”
This is taking direct action to the next level. And — believe it or not — they actually have the law on their side.
As I reported on Thursday, Palestine Action last week won its second major victory in court. The case collapsed and all charges were dropped after the Crown Prosecution Service failed to produce evidence.
In December, Palestine Action’s first trial ended in full aquittal, with the activists accused of criminal damage being found not guilty. They had successfully argued to the magistrate that the damage they caused was not criminal, but in fact proportionate action to prevent Israeli war crimes in Palestine — which are of course illegal under international law.
Both of those court cases had involved charges such as criminal damage brought against activists who had been campaigning against the very same Shenstone factory that Palestine Action was once again targeting today.
Hence why they are feeling emboldened — that the law is indeed on their side.
As Max Geller put it to us on the latest episode of The Electronic Intifada Podcast: “It’s clear that if the UK is not going to prosecute Palestine Action, Elbit is going to be left with very little options besides quitting the country.”
And that is just what has begun to happen.
As I reported in last week’s newsletter, Palestine Action’s sustained campaign against another Elbit factory in Oldham, in the North, this month resulted in their first actual factory shut down, with the killer Israeli drone company forced to sell off almost its entire operation, relocating the rest of it out of Oldham.
One of the activists’ banners on Monday read: “One down, nine to go!”
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My Work This Week
As mentioned above, I reported for The Electronic Intifada on Palestine Action’s latest court victory:
Birmingham Magistrates Court ordered that three activists go free, despite charges of criminal damage, resisting arrest and a charge related to suspected aggravated trespass. The Palestine Action campaigners had targeted an Elbit landlord, Vine Property Management in Birmingham, in the English Midlands.
I also wrote a column for Middle East Monitor, in which which I critiqued the tendency to demand “investigations” about what’s happening in Palestine, when the facts have actually been very clear all along:
We do not need an umpteenth inquiry, investigation, or – going back to the British colonial “mandate” period – white paper or royal commission. We all know that Israel is a racist apartheid state that murders Palestinians daily in cold blood. It is time to hold it to account and bring justice to Palestinians.
Tweet of the Week
The initial version of this post and the email version both incorrectly stated that “Elbit last week won its second major victory in court.” Of course — as was hopefully still clear from the context — it was actually Palestine Action that won both of those cases. Apologies for any confusion. This has been corrected in the text above.