British Palestine direct action group takes on Israel’s largest arms company

15-09-2020 11:46

Middle East Eye


When Huda Ammori heard that Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Orit Farkash-Hacohen had asked the British government to act against a recent direct action campaign opposed to Israel’s high-tech arms company Elbit Systems UK, she says she was “elated”.


Ammori, a British-Palestinian researcher with campaign group Corporate Watch, was arrested alongside other activists on Saturday at a protest targeting Elbit Systems’ head office in London.  


She is part of the new solidarity group, Palestine Action, which launched at the end of July specifically to target the defence company. The British branch of Elbit Systems supplies the Israeli army with most of the drones used in surveillance and attacks on Palestinians in Gaza, including the recent wave of air strikes against the besieged territory in late August.


“It’s a massive victory to see that the Israeli minister of strategic affairs has to go to [UK foreign secretary] Dominic Raab a month into this new direct action group being launched, and it shows the potential of this movement, of this tactic moving forward to actually end the operation of immoral companies in the UK,” she told Middle East Eye.


During a visit to the UK in August, Farkash-Hacohen specifically mentioned Palestine Action’s protests against Israel’s Elbit Systems, which has offices and factories in Britain, in a meeting with Raab. 


"Only last weekend, the offices of an Israeli security company were vandalised for the fourth time in the last month. We want Israeli companies to continue doing business in London. It’s good for both countries,” Farkash-Hacohen said in the meeting, also attended by Israel’s defence minister Benny Gantz.


The Israeli minister conflated the campaign with anti-Jewish hatred on social media, consistent with the long-running Israeli narrative that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel’s occupation and human rights abuses is antisemitic.


Ammori was arrested along with three other protestors, and detained for 15 hours for questioning before being released on bail. The bail conditions include staying out of parts of London and other areas where Elbit offices and factories are located, following a series of dramatic actions publicised by the group on social media. 


Despite this, she sees the action as a success in putting a spotlight on Elbit's activities and its major presence in the UK.


“All in all it was a very successful protest - we saw loads of people coming out, and I think this shows that the atmosphere is changing in the UK, and in the movement, and people are realising more and more that we need to step up and take direct action to make effective change." 


In videos shared by Palestine Action online taken during previous actions, activists storm into Elbit's offices, spill fake blood in a lift area and spray slogans on the walls before being ejected by security staff. In another, they carry out protests outside the company's British factories.



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