An activist in red lies on a roof next to a white banner reading, "Stop arming Israel."

A protester occupies the roof of Howmet Fastening Systems in Leicester, U.K., which makes components for Israeli F-35s.

(Photo: Palestine Action)

'Stop Arming Israel': Protesters Target Weapons Makers Supplying the Gaza Bombardment

"People are rising up to shut down the production of weaponry destined for use in Israel's ongoing massacre of the Palestinian people," Palestine Action said.

Protesters with Palestine Action on Thursday disrupted three different weapons factories in the U.K. that send arms to Israel as the country continues its siege and bombardment of Gaza that has killed thousands of people and prompted warnings of genocide.

In the largest gathering, more than 100 people blockaded both entrances to the Instro Precision factory in Sandwich, Kent, which is owned by Israel's largest arms company Elbit Systems. Elbit has also been targeted by activists in the U.S. since Israel began its latest assault on Gaza following an October 7 attack by Hamas.

"Across the country, people are rising up to shut down the production of weaponry destined for use in Israel's ongoing massacre of the Palestinian people," Palestine Action wrote on Instagram.

In a statement Thursday, Palestine Action said that its activists forced the closure of the plant, which "specializes in military-grade electro-optical equipment for target location." Instro Precision has licenses to export ML5b surveillance/target acquisition systems, in particular the XACT th64 sights. Palestine Action said that the plant had sold thousands of these systems to Israel, which are likely used by snipers surrounding Gaza. In addition, it makes components for military ground vehicles and other military electronic equipment.

The protesters carried signs reading "Workers for a free Palestine," "Stop arming Israel," and "U.K. funds genocide," according Palestine Action and EuroNews.

"Free, free Palestine!" and "In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians," participants chanted.

Also on Thursday, a single demonstrator locked themselves to the entrance of the UAV Tactical Systems (U-TacS) military drone factory in Leicester, co-owned by Elbit Systems and the French weapons maker Thales.

The factory most likely makes Hermes drone components for Israel, Palestine Action said. Israel has used the Hermes 900 and 450 drones in previous bombing campaigns against Gaza.

"Either dropping explosive payloads for bombing strikes, in the case of the Hermes 900, or by providing targeting for guided missile strikes in the case of the 450, these drones are responsible for vast numbers of Palestinians killed and are certain to be playing a role in the current genocidal terrorism being committed by the Israeli military," Palestine Action wrote.

In a final action in Leicester, a group of activists climbed onto the roof of Howmet Fastening Systems, which makes components for Israeli F-35s that have been used "extensively" in airstrikes over Gaza in the last weeks. The demonstrators used sledgehammers to attempt to disarm the factory.

"These actions represent the strength in numbers of those willing and ready to take direct action to shut down the Israeli war machine—while our politicians and media rally behind Israel's criminality, the grassroots movement against Israel's war machine sees people power as the only way to stand against genocide," Palestine Action said.

The push to target Elbit Systems for its role in arming Israel extends beyond the U.K. On October 19, the U.S. branch of Palestine Action announced a campaign to "shut Elbit down." The group first targeted Elbit's Innovation Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 12, blocking the entrance and coating it in red paint.

Activists returned later that evening to cover the building in graffiti reading, "Elbit Profits From Genocide" and "War Criminals Work Here." Three days later, someone smashed scanners that enable access to the building and covered it with more red paint and graffiti reading, "Gaza Resists" and "Elbit Arms Genocide."

Elbit makes several weapons for Israel including bullets, tear gas, and 85% of the drones used by the Israeli army.

"Solidarity with Palestine mandates that we expose Elbit Systems and all weapons developers as manufacturers of genocide," Palestine Action U.S. said. "Solidarity with Palestine mandates that we take direct action until Elbit can no longer 'innovate' its instruments of surveillance, oppression, and terror from within our communities."

The group is calling on those who don't live near an Elbit location to call its Cambridge tenants and landlords to tell them how they feel about its presence.

Meanwhile, in Roanoke, Virginia, Appalachians Against Pipelines held a rally outside of an Elbit location Friday morning.

"Living in the belly of the empire means we have a duty to intervene as the United States funds and arms genocide," one participant said. "We must continually rise up and fight back until Palestine is free!"

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