Solidarity with the Shenstone 9

On 5 August a group of activists from London Palestine Action (LPA) occupied the roof and chained shut the doors of a weapons factory in Shenstone, north of Birmingham. The factory is owned by Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Engines, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military company and the world’s largest producer of drones. Drones produced by Elbit Systems have been used in the massacre in Gaza, and the Shenstone factory produced engines that were exported to Israel in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The occupation lasted until the evening of 6 August, shutting down production for two days.

The activists occupied the factory in opposition to British imperialist support for Israel and to demand an end to Britain arming the Zionist state.. One of the largest investors in Elbit Systems is Barclays Bank, which is not only one of the leading investors in the global arms trade, but also the high street bank with the largest direct investments in Israel. Just as Barclays profited from the apartheid regime in South Africa, so today it profits from Israeli apartheid.

During the occupation there were multiple solidarity protests outside the factory. The police sought to intimidate those protesting in support of the LPA activists on the roof and also attempted to stop Russia Today live-streaming the protest. After police negotiators had agreed for an 18.30 BBC live-feed for protesters to send a message out on television, police climbers arrested the activists who remained on the roof during the broadcast. They were taken to Stafford police station where nine of them were charged with aggravated trespass and will attend Stafford Court on 20 August.

The brave action of those involved in the occupation is an example of the new forces that are driving the Palestinian solidarity movement forward. An independent, democratic and sustained movement prepared to take part in militant solidarity actions is now required to help achieve the aims of the LPA activists who sought to stop Britain from arming Israel. The Revolutionary Communist Group encourages all supporters and readers to show solidarity with the arrested demonstrators and to picket the court in solidarity with the Shenstone 9. We also call upon supporters to take to the streets in support of the people of Palestine and help build a militant, democratic movement that seeks to end British imperialist support for Israel.


Victoria Smith


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