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Palestinian Action activists found not guilty of criminal damage

THREE Palestine activists who splashed red paint on an Israeli-owned arms factory in Britain were found not guilty of criminal damage today.

The Palestine Action activists targeted the UAV Engines factory of Israeli-owned Elbit Systems in Shenstone in Staffordshire in February and were arrested.

The factory makes components for drones used by the Israeli military to attack Palestinians, including attacks on Gaza.

Judge Marcus Waites said in his judgement at Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates Court that the defendants believed Palestine was an important issue and that they believed in what they were doing.

He also said that the location was deliberately chosen, that the duration of the protest and the disruption caused were limited and that there was no danger to public order.

He said the judgement was not a precedent.

Two of the defendants had defended their actions accusing Elbit of enabling “war crimes” against the Palestinian people.

Milly Arnott and Sarah Wilkinson were two of three Palestine Action activists charged with criminal damage. A third is out of the country.

Outside the court supporters of the defendants staged a protest in pouring rain wielding placards saying: “Elbit, guilty of war crimes” and “Elbit on trial,” and waved Palestinian flags.

Ms Wilkinson said she had become friends with a Palestinian family in Gaza using Skype until the family was killed by a rocket launched from an Israeli drone. Only the mother survived.

She told the court that protesting at Elbit’s UAV Engines factory was “the least I can do” for the family.

She said that Elbit boasts that it makes 85 per cent of the drones used by the Israeli military.

Ms Arnott said she had visited Palestine and had witnessed the apartheid system imposed on Palestinians by Israel.

The defence said that Lancet medical magazine revealed that 54 per cent of medical amputations carried out in Gaza were due to injuries caused by missiles fired from Israeli armed drones.

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