Published: 12:00, 06 July 2015
Protesters have forced a Broadstairs factory to close for the second time this year.
They say they have targeted Instro Precision Ltd on the Pysons Road industrial estate because the company is a manufacturer of lethal unmanned drones that were used by Israel to kill Gazans this time last year.
They claim Instro Precision, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Israeli arms giant Elbit Systems Ltd, and makes “target acquisition” equipment which is then fitted to Elbit’s drones. Elbit supplies 85% of the Israeli military’s drones.
The protesters, a mix of Palestine solidarity and anti-arms trade activists, are calling themselves Block the Factory Kent, and are made up of individuals from groups including Campaign Against the Arms Trade East Kent, Smash EDO, Anarchist Action Network, Stop Nato Cymru, Swansea Action for Palestine, Brighton Palestine Action, Brighton Jordan Valley Solidarity and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
The group arrived at 3.30am and plan to occupy the site all day.
There are four campaigners on top of the building with a tent, three within the compound with a speaker, one man locked to the front gate and the rest at the entrance.
A Block the Factory spokesman said: "As well as remembering those who lost their lives in Gaza this time last year, we are demanding a two-way arms embargo.
"The UK seems to be complicit in letting companies like Instro contribute in war crimes, such as in Gaza and looking at our arms export devices has fallen off the agenda. We want to stop importing and exporting arms with Israel.
"More than 2,000 people including women and children were killed in Gaza last year and we are putting up ribbons with their names to commemorate them."
There are reportedly two other protest actions ongoing in the UK at the moment with hundreds of protesters at UAV Engines in Shenstone, Birmingham and campaigners in Staffordshire. A nine-hour vigil in Melbourne, Australia also ended at 10am.
The spokesman added: "According to the UN, last summer Israel killed more than 2,200 Palestinians including more than 500 children.
"Approximately 11,000 people were injured, including 1,000 children left with permanent disabilities and 18,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged making 100,000 people homeless and displacing 500,000."
The group is inviting local people to meet the protesters and to show support, or to ask questions and find out more about the activities of the company.
It plans to leaflet the town centre to raise awareness of the factory’s presence in the town, and will carry out activities at the site including tying white ribbons to the factory fence for each of Gazan killed last summer, and flying kites, a favourite activity of children on Gaza’s beaches.
This is the second protest this year that has targeted the Kent factory.
On February 17 protesters occupied the roof of Instro Precision, while others locked themselves to the factory gate, forcing the company to close production for the day.
According to the protesters no arrests were made and all were able to leave without being prosecuted, despite closing down the factory and delivery vehicles having to be turned away.
A spokesman said: “We want this company out of Broadstairs, out of Kent and out of business, and we’re starting by putting it out of action for a second time this year.
“Elbit Systems cynically profits from the carnage in Gaza by marketing its equipment as ‘battle-tested’, a gruesome phrase which means it has been used to kill and maim Palestinians.”
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