Three Palestine activists, who protested against an Israeli-owned arms factory in Britain, were found not guilty of criminal damage today, according to the group’s Twitter account.
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The Palestine Action activists took action against the UAV Engines factory of Israeli-owned Elbit Systems in Shenstone in Staffordshire in February and were arrested. The landmark case “represents a significant defeat for both Elbit and the Crown Prosecution Service, who attempted to prosecute people taking a stand to undermine the production of Israeli drones”, said the group on its website.
The Israeli factory manufactures components for drones used by the Israeli military to attack Palestinians, including attacks killing civilians in Gaza.
Judge Marcus Waites said in his judgement at Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates Court that the Crown had failed to prove that convicting the defendents would be proportionate with their freedom to protest. He stated further points which included: Palestine is an important issue, the arms trade is an important issue, the defendants believed in what they were doing, and the location was specifically chosen.
On the other side, the defence said that the action taken was to prevent a greater crime, which is to shut down the factory for one day in an attempt to stem the flow of drones and stop the bombings.
“Throwing this paint may not protect Gaza”, said Sarah Wilkinson, one of the three activists. “What protects Gaza is stopping the bombing. Elbit produce weapons, tanks and drones used to commit crimes against humanity, and this is what is is unlawful. Export licenses should not be granted while Elbit continue to violate human rights. In the face of these crimes, you have to do something. If you do nothing, then Elbit continues to make its smart weaponry which enables Israel to kill efficiently. Elbit has no business being allowed to be in the UK. It has no values that are shared with humanity”.