Palestine Action snuck their way into Canary Wharf’s East Wintergarden, to crash the ‘Make UK National Gala Awards’ Ceremony, humiliating Elbit Systems and their accomplices where they least expected it. The event celebrates the worst of Britain’s military-industrial-colonial complex, hosting a number of Israel-supplying arms companies, but chief among them was Elbit Systems.
Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms company, openly advertise their membership with Make UK – and Palestine Action activists took it upon themselves to further reduce their credibility, calling Elbit out for what they are: murderers, complicit in Israel’s brutal killing of Palestinians.
Activists entered the members-only event at the East Wintergarden venue in Canary Wharf during the ceremony, before one of them stormed the stage and delivered this speech:
“This morning, ten Palestinians were murdered by the occupation forces, the Zionist forces, using Elbit’s weapons.
The engineering industry is guilty of genocide. Arms companies are responsible for millions dead around the world – are you happy to profit from murder?
SHUT ELBIT DOWN”
Private security initially tried to prevent the activists from leaving, but eventually the group were escorted out – but not before setting off stink bombs and leaving the entire venue thoroughly disrupted. For this, they were ‘banned’ from entering Canary Wharf for two years by private security.
Make UK, an engineering industry body, have lobbied the British government on behalf of arms-trade companies such as Elbit Systems. Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms firm markets its weapons as “battle-tested” on Palestinians, while supplying the Israeli military with 85% of its drones and land based equipment. Palestine Action have vowed to disrupt all those which enable Elbit Systems’ operations in Britain; its partners, landlords, and – in Make UK’s case – its government liaisons. Our undermining of Elbit’s operations, security, and government relations have jeopardised its position as a trusted supplier of the Ministry of Defence, with the company last year being cut from over £280m in MoD contracts.
Amongst the listed award winners for Make UK’s 2022 event are weapons companies such as Leonardo, Teledyne e2v, BAE Systems, who were crowned with decorations for their ‘innovation’ of their apprenticeships. In the last ten years, those three companies alone applied for 185 export licenses for the shipment of arms from Britain to Israel. MBDA and Airbus were also lauded at the 2022 ceremonies, Airbus winning the ‘Health and Safety’ award in a year when 333 Yemeni children were killed, with both the UAE and Saudi forces employing Eurofighter Typhoon which Airbus supplies parts for.
The defence sector use these events for lobbying, networking, and schmoozing, and this is not the first time that Palestine Action have undermined these nefarious networking events. In December of last year, five activists stormed the TechUK Defence Winter Dinner to expose Elbit and show them that they truly have no place to hide.