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British Palestinian activist arrested in protest against Israel arms group Elbit

New direct action group Palestine Action has targeted the Israeli arms company and its UK offices
The Palestine Action group has carried out protests targeting Israel's Elbit Systems in the UK (Palestine Action)

A British-Palestinian activist has been arrested in a protest targeting Israel's largest arms company, as activists stepped up direct action against UK military cooperation with Israel and its occupation of Palestinian territories.

A video was circulated on social media of Huda Ammori, a researcher at campaign group Corporate Watch UK, being held on the ground and arrested by several police officers on Saturday outside Elbit Systems' London offices.

The Palestine Action group had organised the latest in a series of protests against Elbit, which supplies weapons technology to the Israeli army, used in its operations against Palestinians in the occupied territories. 

Ammori, who can be seen in the video handcuffed and face down on the ground, is heard saying: "Elbit Systems are war criminals. Shut Elbit down!"

Before being put in a police van, she says: "They [Elbit Systems] market their weapons as battle-tested. The UK has been complicit in this for over 100 years … Palestinians are dying every single day."

Ammori was arrested along with another activist after storming Elbit's offices and taken to Holborn police station. She was held for 15 hours before being released on bail under police investigation, she told Middle East Eye.

Elbit Systems, which has several factories in the UK and head offices in London, produces unmanned aircraft, cyber intelligence, naval and other technology for the Israeli army, Nato countries and other markets.

In February Elbit was awarded a £900,000 contract to demonstrate and carry out drone surveillance of British coastal waters for the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

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Elbit's Hermes 900 drones have been used in Israeli attacks on Gaza, and were first deployed during the 2014 assault on the besieged enclave when more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed. 

Palestine Action is a new campaign, launched in July, supporting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign against Israel's occupation and its human rights abuses against Palestinians through direct action protests. 

Activists filmed themselves entering the premises of Elbit Systems and spray-painting them with slogans condemning the arms company, before being removed by security staff.

Middle East Eye contacted Elbit Systems for comment, but had not received a reply at time of publication. 

Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs Orit Farkash-Hacohen has asked the British government to act against what she called the delegitimisation campaign against Israel in the UK and mentioned the actions against Elbit while on a visit to the UK.

"Only last weekend, the offices of an Israeli security company were vandalised, for the fourth time in the last month. We want Israeli companies to continue doing business in London. It’s good for both countries,” Farkash-Hacohen said in her address to UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab late last month.

The UK-Israel arms trade is extensive and growing, with intelligence and military cooperation spanning decades.

Between 2014 and 2018, the UK issued individual licences for £364m worth of military equipment and technology for export to Israel, as well as 20 open licences, according to UK group Campaign Against Arms Trade.