Palestine Action group’s dogged campaign against Elbit, which sells drones to Israel, bears fruit as the firm sells Ferranti, one of its factories in the UK.
Israel is the world’s largest exporter of drones, but it also uses them at home. In the most recent Gaza war, at least 256 Palestinians including 66 children were killed due to Israel’s military campaign, enabled in part, by its drones.
On Monday, there was good news for Palestinians that Israel’s biggest privately-owned weapons manufacturer, Elbit Systems, which also produces nearly 80 percent of Israel’s drones, dropped one of its subsidiaries, Ferranti, located in Oldham in the UK.
Under persistent pressure from mostly British activists, who formed the Palestine Action group to oppose pro-Israeli activities in the UK, Elbit decided to sell The Power and Control Business of Ferranti Technologies to a UK company, TT Electronics.
While the Israeli company, which still owns other 10 factories across the UK, did not mention Palestine Action’s protests and its non-violent activism as a factor, the pro-Palestinian group believes that its actions, ranging from spraying the walls of the factory with blood-red paint to occupying its entrance, persuaded the firm to quit its Oldham company.
As a result, the group’s activists believe that confronting the firms like the Elbit through “direct actions” works better than just publishing long statements against Israel and its allies.
“Occupations of the site have caused weeks of forced factory closure, and have cost millions in damages to the company. At the end of November 2021, Elbit began packing up their Oldham operation – now the majority of the Ferranti business has been sold off,” said a statement from Palestine Action.
“Direct action works – the brave individuals who occupied the factory over the past year can proudly say that drone technologies are no longer in production in Oldham,” the statement added.
According to Palestine Action, Elbit’s factories in the UK produce UAE engines, which are used to build Israeli drones. Huda Ammori, one of the co-founders of Palestine Action, believes that those drones are used in Gaza against Palestinians.
During its 18-month long activism, 36 activists of the group were arrested by the British police while none of them were charged with a crime. The UK police held Ammori and Richard Barland, another founder of Palestine Action, in the past for their campaign against Elbit Systems.
The company provides not only drones but also surveillance technology to Israel. The company sold Israel ‘Torch’, a surveillance product, which was used for the country’s separation wall built in occupied West Bank to separate Palestinian populations from each other.
Many call the wall the Apartheid Wall, which was built by annexing “some of the most fertile lands in the West Bank and water sources” from Palestinians, according to experts.
In 2009, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) decided to exclude Elbit Systems because of the company’s “serious violations of fundamental ethical norms”.
Since mid-2000s, direct anti-Israel activism has gained a lot of traction across the world with the formation of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has launched various actions to increase global awareness on Tel Aviv’s occupation of Palestinian lands.
Groups like Palestine Action are inspired by the BDS activism and also protests like Occupy Wall Street, an anti-globalist and capitalist movement, using direct techniques like occupying premises of big companies like Elbit and others.