Since early yesterday morning (19th May), four activists have been occupying the roof of an Elbit Systems subsidiary in Leicester. They believe the UAV Tactical Systems plant in Leicester, a joint venture between Elbit and Thales, assembles drones which are destined for use by the Israeli Defence Force in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories, and thus implicated in war crimes. The protesters have taken direct action to halt work at the plant by barricading the building, taking control of the roof, damaging the premises and spraying blood-red paint over the building.
At the request of the police, a fire engine attended and negotiators were hoisted up to speak with the group, but after ensuring the safety of activists the firemen refused to aid any further police operation and left the scene. The Leicester Fire Brigade Union later issued a statement standing in solidarity with Palestine and the right to protest.
The action was the first at this particular site, although Palestine Action have carried out dozens of actions against Elbit Systems, the Israeli arms manufacturer which controls ten sites across the UK. Five activists were due to appear at Staffordshire Crown Court this week, but legal wrangles have postponed the case yet again. Elbit has never yet appeared in court to defend the legality of their business and challenge the claims of protesters. The company has been repeatedly contacted for comment but has not responded.
The occupation at UAV Tactical Systems continues into a second day and weapons production is halted, as Israel continues to bomb Gaza in the latest grim escalation of their repression of the Palestinian people.
More info on the campaign at