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Activists shut down Israeli arms factory for second day

ACTIVISTS have shut down an Israeli arms factory for a second day after three arrests were made on Monday. 

Five protesters from the Palestine Action network scaled the UAV Engines site in Shenstone, Staffordshire, in the early hours of Monday morning while three others locked onto the gates. 

The factory, owned by Israel’s largest private arms firm Elbit Systems, makes parts for military drones which campaigners claim are used by the Israeli army to bomb civilians in Gaza. 

To expose the factory’s potential role in bloodshed in Gaza, activists on the roof poured red paint down its walls. Damage has also been caused to the roof and windows smashed. 

Three activists at the gates were arrested on Monday afternoon, according to the group, but the five on the roof maintained the occupation throughout the night. 

Speaking from the roof, activist Huda Amori said the group will not come down unless removed by police.

“We want to stay here until the factory is shut down for good,” she told the Morning Star. 

Explaining the action, Ms Amori said: “Petitions and letters are not enough. The government is continuing to ignore campaigners and has been complicit in the occupation of Palestine for over 100 years. 

“The only way we’re going to change anything is if we take it to the next level, by taking direct action to shut these factories down.”

Elbit Systems supplies 80 per cent of the Israeli army’s drones and markets its technology as “battle tested” having first been used on Palestinians. 

The TUC today passed a motion condemning Israel’s planned annexation of the West Bank.

The Unite motion said the illegal expansion would mark “another significant step in the creation of a system of apartheid” in the Middle Eastern country.

Elbit’s Hermes 900 drone was first deployed during the 2014 assault on Gaza, in which more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed including 500 children. 

On Monday protesters gathered outside the factory to support the rooftop activists, and laid out images of children killed in the 2014 massacre by the gates. 

Protester Adie Mormech said in a video posted by the group: “We want this toxic industry to end, we want Elbit systems shut down.

“You cannot have an industry that can only grow and develop by bombing and murdering a captive civilian population.”

Today activists demanded to speak with local Tory MP Michael Fabricant who condemned the action and told the local press that if Palestinians had “established Western democracy, like the state of Israel,” they would have achieved peace. 
 
In response, Ms Amori slammed: “We want Michael to come to face the truth of what he is protecting.”

The factory occupation is the latest in a series of actions against Elbit Systems’ sites across Britain. 

Since Palestine Action burst onto the scene in August, activists from the network have held 15 actions targeting the firm including two occupations of Elbit’s headquarters in London. The arms firm has a total of 10 sites around the country. 

Staffordshire police said they had been called to the site shortly before 6am on Monday morning. 

Assistant Chief Constable Scott Green said:  “We have a number of specialist officers in attendance and are working with partners to resolve the incident safely."

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