Monday, July 6, 2015

Melbourne Pro-Palestine activists shut down Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, on anniversary of Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza.

Dear friends,
it's been a horribly cold and rainy day in Melbourne today, but a small group of activists ignored the weather and have once more shut down Elbit Systems in Melbourne.

The activists have continued to blockade the site all day, with a number of activists "locking on" to Elbit's gates. 

At the same time in the UK, Palestine solidarity activists have also successfully shut down Elbit Systems in Kent.


Please find below the media release from the activists, as well as photos and video from the action.


You can follow the Melbourne action on twitter at: @akaWACA

You can follow the UK action on twitter at:
@blockthefactory


in solidarity, Kim 

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Pro-Palestinian activists shut down Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, on anniversary of Israel’s ‘Protective Edge’ assault on GAZA.

Media Release July 6, 2015
For Immediate Release


NOTE: This action is currently ongoing at 235 Ingles St Port Melbourne.
At 8am members of the Melbourne Palestine Action Coalition (MPAC) shut down the headquarters of Israeli arms manufacturer, ELBIT SYSTEMS, at 235 Ingles St Port Melbourne to mark the first anniversary of the 2014 Israeli ‘Protective Edge’ assault on Gaza. The group have blockaded access to the building and currently have two people locked on to the entrance gate, who state that they are prepared to remain there as long as possible. This is the second time the pro-Palestinian group has disrupted Elbit Systems, the first time being in August 2014 when they occupied the building’s roof and blockaded the entrance to Elbit during the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza. (see more photos of the previous action )

MPAC spokesperson Kat Moore explains: “This blockade is part of an International campaign to shut down Elbit Systems and coincides with events in London later today, to mark the anniversary of the deadly assault on GAZA last year. We are here today to demand the Australian Government end military trade deals with Israel and cancel all domestic contracts with Elbit Systems. We, like many other groups around the world, call on the UN and all governments to take immediate steps to implement a comprehensive and legally binding military embargo on Israel.” 

Elbit Systems is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of unmanned aerial drones used by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in their ongoing siege and frequent military offensives in Gaza. MPAC are also targeting the arms manufacturer over domestic contracts with the Australian military and federal police. The group claim the Australian government have awarded 185 procurement contracts to Elbit Systems since 2007 totaling $704,728,650* of Australian tax payer dollars, during a period which saw the most egregious crimes against the Palestinian people in the near 50-year illegal Israeli occupation of their lives and territories, including;

2008/2009 Operation ‘Cast Lead’
2012 Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’
2014 Operation ‘Protective Edge’


MPAC spokesperson Sam Castro stated: “Israel's ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world, one of the most vigorous funders being the Australian Government. By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel's military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity”

In the final report from the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, issued on June 22, 2015, the UN state “serious violations of international humanitarian law” that “may amount to war crimes” and that “impunity prevails across the board” regarding the actions of Israeli forces in Gaza”.

UN Representative for the report, Ms. McGowan Davis, hopes the report will persuade governments to address “the crying need” for changes in policies regarding the use of weapons with a wide-area effect in densely populated areas. The commission said that “the scale of the devastation was unprecedented” in Gaza, where it counted 2,251 Palestinian deaths and 18,000 homes destroyed.

MPAC spokesperson Sam Castro stated, ‘This is just the beginning of a global campaign to stop the war profiteering of private corporations off the people of Palestine and others around the world. Israel's military technology is marketed as "field-tested" and exported across the world. Military trade and joint military-related research relations with Israel embolden Israeli impunity in committing grave violations of international law and facilitate the entrenchment of Israel's system of occupation, colonization and systematic denial of Palestinian rights.

‪#‎ShutDownElbit‬ ‪#‎StopArmingIsrael‬ ‪#‎BlockTheFactory‬ ‪#‎FreePalestine‬

MEDIA CONTACT (currently onsite)
Sam Castro 0439 569 289
Kat Moore 0422 258 159


-END-

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FURTHER BACKGROUND
Elbit contracts
Asia
Media reported on October 22, that Elbit Systems has been awarded contracts from an unnamed Asian country for roughly $85 million, as Israel's Asian ties continue to blossom. While the contracting country was left unnamed, the F-5 is currently widely in use both in China and South Korea.
For more see: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/186428…


Brazil
Elbit Systems announced on December 23 that its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, Elbit Systems of America, LLC ("Elbit Systems of America"), received a directed subcontract from the Brazilian Navy for the upgrade of four Grumman C-1A aircraft. The prime contract is held by Marsh Aviation Company of Mesa, Arizona. The subcontract, valued at $106 million, will be performed by Elbit Systems of America over a five-year period.
For more information see: http://www.prnewswire.com/…/elbit-systems-us-subsidiary-awa…


Canada
On October 31, Elbit Systems announced that it has been awarded a contract to deliver its mobile satellite communications system, ELSAT 2100 satellite-on-the-move (SOTM), to the Canadian Armed Forces. Awarded by Rheinmetall Canada, work will be carried out over an 18-month period. Financial details of the contract remain undisclosed.
For more see: http://www.army-technology.com/…/newscanadian-armed-forces-…


European Union
The F-35 might undercut the European arms export policy - Nine countries are officially participating in the F-35 program, all based in North America and Europe. Although Israel is not one of the 'nine', it is also participating in the production of the F-35. Israeli arms company Elbit Systems has been selected to join the production of the F-35’s helmet-mounted display systems together with Rockwell Collins from the U.S.


Clients for the F-35 come from Asia and the Middle East, including the UAE and Israel. This raises the heat, because when countries join in F-35 production, the export policies of the US will be followed. European restrictions on exports, which would theoretically prohibit exports that prolong armed conflict, or in countries that disrespect human rights and international humanitarian law - will not be taken into account as it is stated in a Memoranda of Understanding. This will facilitate Israeli demands to buy the fighter jets, even though it has been extensively proven that they will be used against the Palestinians.
For more see: http://www.stopwapenhandel.org/node/1693


Germany
On November 17, news reports informed that Elbit Systems will equip Airbus A400M airlifters of the German Air Force with Elbit Systems' J-MUSIC Multi-Spectral Directed Infrared Counter Measure systems.
For more see:http://www.upi.com/…/Elbits-anti-missile-sy…/3461416583471/…; http://www.flightglobal.com/…/little-meaningful-success-up…/


Latin America
Elbit Systems announced on August 13 that it was awarded a contract to supply a Latin American country with Command, Control (C4I) systems.
The project, to be performed over a three-year period, is part of the extensive modernization program and is designated for all echelons, from the maneuvering forces up to the command headquarters. The new, unified communications network will play an important role during emergencies and natural hazards and disasters and will facilitate a real-time common operational picture, providing the Land Forces with enhanced operational performance and situational awareness.
For more see: http://ir.elbitsystems.com/phoenix.zhtml…


USA
On October 13, Elbit Systems announced that its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, Elbit Systems of America, LLC, ("Elbit Systems of America"), was awarded an approximately $12.7 million contract to provide Apache Aviator Integrated Helmets (AAIH) to the United States Army.
For more see: http://www.streetinsider.com/…/Elbit+Systems+L…/9904689.html

On November 11, Elbit Systems announced that its wholly-owned US subsidiary Elbit Systems of America has been awarded a five-year, $29 million contract by the United States Air Force (USAF). The contract is for logistics support of the USAF’s F-16 head-up display (HUD) electric module assemblies. For more see: http://www.globes.co.il/…/article-elbit-systems-wins-29m-us…

On December 16, news reported that Elbit Systems of America has signed a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement with Ogden Air Logistic Complex (OO-ALC) to improve support for US soldiers. The agreement defines how the two entities will work together during prospective contract opportunities to bring the best possible services and solutions to soldiers.
For more information see: http://www.airforce-technology.com/…/newselbit-ogden-air-lo…


Victories of the Stop Elbit Campaign
Elbit Systems loses key Brazil deal over Palestine protests
On December 3 the governor of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul released an open letter announcing the end of a major collaboration deal with Israeli military company Elbit Systems in the wake of protests over the firm’s role in the oppression of Palestinians. Brazilian social movements and trade unions and Palestinian groups had called on authorities to cancel the deal over Elbit’s role in the construction of Israel’s illegal apartheid Wall in the occupied West Bank and its close relationship with the Israeli military.

Rio Grande do Sul governor Tarso Genro had signed a research cooperation deal making Elbit the first Israeli military company to lead Brazilian military projects in April 2013. Elbit was to be provided access to public funding and technologies produced by four local universities. A $17 million dollar plan to build a military satellite is among the projects cancelled
For more see: http://www.stopthewall.org/…/bds-success-elbit-systems-lose…


The Netherlands
After news of protests, Elbit decides not to present its new missile system at the Rotterdam arms fair. On November 20, seven organizations and some 50 individual activists staged a protest against the NIDV arms fair held at the AHOY in Rotterdam. The announcement of the protest a few days before appeared to have caused considerable commotion. As a result Elbit decided not to display its new missile system at the fair, but to limit its presentation to a stall with leaflets. This was reported by the Dutch rightwing morning paper DeTelegraaf, after which the press ran out to follow the events.
For more see: http://www.docp.nl/video-elbit-geintimideerd-door-protesta…/


In 2009, Norway’s finance minister announced the country would withdraw all government investment in Elbit due to its involvement in building a security wall in the West Bank.
Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, has Elbit on its list of companies excluded from investment because of the company’s involvement in “supplying electronic equipment in conflict with human rights norms”.

UK
Shenstone – Elbit subsidiary
After the occupation of an Elbit subsidiary in Shenstone by pro-Palestine activists in August, on Friday October 10, people from churches in Birmingham and Lichfield, supported by staff and students from a Birmingham theological college, sounded bells, whistles and drums outside the plant. The Elbit subsidiary, UAV Engines, produces engines for the Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 Elbit drones, used and developed during the massacres in Gaza.
For more see: http://www.lichfieldmercury.co.uk/…/story-231797…/story.html


Newport
Pro-Palestine and anti-NATO protestors that took action in a Barclays branch in Newport on September 5 during the NATO summit were cleared from charges on November 11. Three women and one man super glued themselves to desks in the branch of the UK bank that is the biggest institutional shareholder of Elbit Systems to protest the bank's complicity with Israel's war crimes.
 

For more see: http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/…/11592911.Not_guilty_ver…/
#StopArmingIsrael
A number of UK organisations coordinated protest actions all over the country on November 29, the UN day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, to pressure the UK government and British companies to end all relationships with Israeli arms companies and to end all forms of military cooperation with Israel.


BARCLAYS branches across the country were forced to close after pro-Palestine activists staged sit-in demonstrations. The flagship Barclays branch in Piccadilly Circus closed three hours early as 35 people from the London Palestine Action Network held a sit-in occupation.
For more information see: http://www.stopthewall.org/…/barclays-branches-across-uk-fo…; http://electronicintifada.net/…/barclays-boycotted-ov…/14056

Switzerland

The Swiss government plans to purchase six Elbit drones during 2015. A large coalition of Swiss civil society has started a campaign to stop this purchase.
In October a petition was launched to ask for the cancellation of the plans. Around 27,000 people have signed the petition, which will be delivered in February.
During October a series of public conferences have been held to raise awareness about the planned deal to support the Israeli war industry.


The campaign continues; the campaign poster and more info can be found at:
http://www.bds-info.ch/index.php/fr/ in French or http://www.bds-info.ch/index.php/de/ in German.
France
According to the French Chief of the Defense Staff, the French army plans to replace its tactical drones by 2016/2017. According to the head of the Direction General de l’Armement, this technological choice could be made during 2015. Among the possible choices, the Watchkeeper drone is highly placed.


Watchkeeper is developed by the United Kingdom branch of the French group Thales (a subsidiary of Elbit Systems) and based on the Elbit Systems drone Hermes 450.
In January the French BDS Committee started a petition to launch a campaign against the purchase of the Watchkeeper drones.


For more information and to sign the petition, see: http://pasdedronesisraeliens.wesign.it/en



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