Activists from Palestine Action occupied the offices of Elbit Systems yesterday (Nov 2), with three activists on the roof and others using converted fire extinguishers to spray red paint on the building itself.
The police responded rapidly to the action, which began in the early hours of the morning at Elbit’s office at 600 Aztec West. It was reported that whilst the police failed to stop the activists themselves from accessing the roof, they did prevent activists taking their food and water.
The paint-spraying activists were confronted by police but fled before being caught.
Palestine Action is a mass direct action movement working to end UK complicity with Israeli apartheid. They have been active across the country over the last year, launching over 50 actions to shut down and damage offices and factories owned or associated with Elbit Systems.
Elbit is Israel’s largest arms manufacturer and has 10 factories and offices in the UK. According to Palestine Action, Elbit Systems field tests its weapons on Palestinians in Gaza before selling them around the world.
According to reports from those present, around 10 supporters were present on the ground throughout the day, including members of Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Police prevented anyone from approaching the building, but supporters chanted, sang and spoke words of encouragement through a megaphone.
Around 3.30pm, children from a nearby school began arrived to swell the number of supporters for the rooftop activists.
By 5pm, police had scaled the roof of the building and, according to an eye-witness, began carrying the activists off the roof. It was at this point that the crowd began to disperse.
Palestine Action previously occupied the same building in April this year. Yesterday’s action saw a marked difference in the response from both supporters and police, with the both turning out in greater numbers, and the latter responding with seemingly greater urgency.
Yesterday’s action was timed to mark the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Signed on November 2 1917 by then Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, the Declaration gave British support to the creation of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. It would form the basis for the later creation of the State of Israel.
The action also coincided with another Palestine Action protest at the London offices of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), Elbit’s landlords, who, according to Palestine Action, are complicit in the brutality carried out with Elbit-made weaponry.