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by Bethany Rielly
SIX activists arrested earlier this week for occupying an Israeli arms factory have had their homes raided during their time in custody, which lasted 48 hours — longer than the standard 24 hours.
The six members of direct action group Palestine Action climbed onto the roof of the UAV Engines factory in Shenstone on Tuesday morning, shutting down the site for the day.
They smashed windows, poured red paint down the walls and also sprayed the police’s cherry picker with paint. The factory is owned by Israel’s largest private arms company Elbit Systems and makes drone parts.
The activists were arrested that afternoon and have been held on remand for more 24-hour period, a measure often reserved for those suspected of “serious crimes.”
They appeared in court this morning and were charged with causing criminal damage worth £50,000 to Elbit.
Each of the activists’ homes have also been raided under section 18 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, but no extra evidence was found, the group said.
Palestine Action accused the police today of taking a tougher approach to activists “acting on behalf of Palestinians” than to other direct action groups.
Group co-founder Richard Barnard, who is also a member of Extinction Rebellion, said that he has never been held on remand or had his home raided over to his activities with the climate justice group.
“This is the same non-violent direct action as many groups have taken and are still taking and it disgusts me that the British state acts in this way when you act for the Palestinian people,” he said.
Elbit Systems developed the Hermes 450 and 900 drones, which are exported globally, having first been deployed during the Israeli military’s deadly bombing campaigns in Gaza.
The firm has 10 sites across Britain, including four weapons factories.
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