civil disobedience

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Israel lobby-funded Woodcock tries to get Palestine Action banned 

Tory-collaborator, friend of apartheid and alleged sex-pest peer tables Lords bill to outlaw anti-genocide group

Main image: Palestine Action

John Woodcock, the former chair of Labour Friends of Israel made a peer and ‘extremism envoy’ by the Tories, plans to issue a report recommending new measures to outlaw groups trying to end genocide or to protect the planet – with a particular emphasis on protecting weapons manufacturers, treating them on similar lines to the proscription of supposed terrorist groups.

Woodcock, or Lord Walney, a longstanding supporter of the apartheid regime who accepted funding for a visit to Israel after Israel began its genocide in Gaza, wants to limit the activities and fundraising of groups such as Palestine Action (PA) and Just Stop Oil. PA’s direct action campaign against Israel’s largest weapons firm, Elbit Systems has seen successes in the UK, such as the closure of Elbit’s Oldham facility. Woodcock admits that the campaign has done “enormous damage” to the arms industry and wants a “proscription-light” option to restrict the groups’ ability to meet and fundraise – combined with “buffer zones” around weapons manufacturers to protect factories producing deadly technologies from protest. 

Supposedly an ‘independent’ government advisor, Woodcock is deeply-connected to the Israel lobby and the arms industry. He is the chair of the so-called ‘Defence Purpose Coalition’ of senior weapons industry figures and, since 2011, has travelled to Israel on multiple occasions on ‘all expenses paid’ trips funded by the Israeli government and pro-Israel lobby groups.

Woodcock is also a former right-wing Labour MP who in 2018 quit the party to escape an investigation into complaints from an investigation into ‘sex pest’ complaints against him. He was also accused by local Labour members of bullying staff.

In a statement on Woodcock’s ploy, Palestine Action said:

During our nearly four year direct action campaign, we’ve faced arrests, raids, imprisonment, beatings, convictions and more by a state desperate to protect the zionist war machine, over the freedom of their own citizens. Despite this, our movement’s determination and resilience has resulted in Elbit permanently closing two weapons factories, being dropped by several partners and losing 100’s of £millions in contracts with the Ministry of Defence. 

We are seven months into the Gaza genocide, and Walney thinks this scare tactic is going to make us surrender? He couldn’t be more wrong. 

When Palestine Action began we were under no illusion that the route to victory would be an easy ride. As a movement, we understand that every obstacle we face and overcome is a step closer to ending Israel’s weapons trade in Britain. For years the political class repressed us behind closed doors but refused to show their frustration at our growing campaign publicly. Now, they’re showing their hand which means we are winning.

Rather than deter us, Walney’s rampage to the press three days after we dissed him on twitter exposes his own motivations: to save face. 

He’s more concerned with protecting the military interests of a foreign genocidal entity over the will of the British people, who overwhelmingly support imposing an arms embargo on Israel.

His alliance is with Elbit Systems, who use Gaza as a laboratory to develop their “battle-tested” weaponry and are crucial to arming the ongoing genocide. Our alliance will always be with the Palestinian people.  Collectively we must refuse to surrender. No matter what, we will #ShutElbitDown!

Woodcock is one of a trio of hard-right former Labour MPs who were made peers by the Tories after campaigning against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in the run-up to the 2019 general election. Ian Austin, the ‘thuggish‘ Israel fanatic and Thatcher-worshipper who was reprimanded by Labour for his abusive conduct, abused Jewish writer Michael Rosen when Rosen was a guest of Parliament and had to apologise and pay damages to a former party staffer for libelling her as antisemitic, became a ‘trade envoy’ to Israel. John Mann, another similarly boorish Israel supporter who sprang a stunt attacking elderly former London mayor Ken Livingstone and was interviewed by police for ‘hate speech’ in an anti-Gypsy leaflet, became an ‘antisemitism tsar’ who went on to try – and fail – to stitch up Skwawkbox and the Canary as antisemitic.

To date, Israel has murdered over forty thousand – and as many as a hundred thousand – Palestinian civilians, overwhelmingly women and children, and has maimed even more, while imposing starvation on more than a million Palestinian people. The Israeli government is on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide, faces likely arrest warrants for war crimes and has been widely condemned for its war crimes and contempt for international and humanitarian law.

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Palestine Action occupy Elbit’s Leicester weapons factory

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/05/2024 - 11:46pm in

Image: Palestine Action Twitter

Activists from Palestine Action (PA) have again targeted Israeli weapons-maker Elbit’s Leicester drone factory, UAV Tactical Systems. One contingent used an articulated lorry to smash through a fence and act as a platform for two protesters. At the same time, another group scaled the building and currently occupy the roof of the drone production facility. Red paint has been sprayed across the building to symbolise the company’s involvement in spilling Palestinian blood. Those on the roof are said to have used tools to break through it. 

UAV Tactical Systems is majority-owned by Israel’s largest weapons manufacturer, Elbit Systems — who manufacture 85% of Israel’s military drone fleet amongst other lethal arms and military software. Export licenses reveal that drone technologies are regularly exported from the factory to the apartheid state’s occupying military force. 

According to Corporate Watch, the firm markets its products by describing them as ‘battle tested’. 

According to War on Want, UAV Tactical Systems’ flagship Watchkeeper drone has been used by the British military in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the English Channel – but is modelled on the notorious Hermes 450 drone, that has been used in attacks on Gaza and Lebanon. 

Elbit’s drones are regularly used by the Israeli military during the ongoing genocide in Gaza. According to human rights watchdog EuroMed Monitor, since October 7th the Israeli military has killed more than 40,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injured more than double that number as well as destroying hospitals, schools and over 70,000 residential buildings. After forcing more than one million Palestinians to flee to Rafah in Gaza, the Israeli military has rejected a US/Qatar/Egypt-broked ceasefire deal it had previously agreed and is now invading the only supposed ‘safe zone’ left in the besieged strip. 

The UK government has refused to impose any limitations on arms deals, even after three Britons and others were murdered by Israel in its triple bombing of a World Central Kitchen aid convoy.

Ahead of the action, one of the Palestine Action activists said: 

This country is a signatory to the Genocide convention. These laws are not to be discounted just because it’s politically expedient. They were set up for a reason and I cannot accept that the country I was born in and have lived in all my life is deciding to flout those laws.

Another added:

If the government aren’t going to act, it is my personal, moral and legal right to take direct action.

Locals in Leicester have also been conducting a daily campaign against the weapons factory’s activities.

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