Palestine Action protesters storm UK aerospace plant

Direct action group scales factory and waves Palestinian flag

Protesters from the Palestine Action group stormed the factory of an aerospace company in England they said produces parts for drones manufactured by Israeli firm Elbit Systems.

Palestine Action said it “stormed, scaled and occupied” the APPH building at 4.30am on Thursday in Runcorn, north-west England.

APPH, which is owned by Canadian company Heroux Devtek, describes itself “as a provider of hydraulic systems and landing gears for diverse civil and military markets”.

Martin Brassard, President & CEO of Heroux Devtek, said the company designed and manufactured the nose landing gear for the British Army’s Watchkeeper programme, which is a surveillance drone.

Since the initial manufacturing that was completed for the British Army around 2012, Heroux Devtek had been involved in “low-level” maintenance of the aircraft’s nose landing gear selling to UTACS.

“The equipment and services we provide for this equipment have never been exported, with EUU (End User Undertaking) statements for UK only. The Watchkeeper aircraft plays an important role in the safety and security of the UK, deployed in reconnaissance and surveillance missions,” Mr Brassard told The National.

He said he “didn’t understand” where the allegations that Heroux Devtek supplied Elbit Systems came from. Mr Brassard said he had only heard of the Israeli firm for the first time on Thursday morning.

Pictures posted by the group showed members waving a Palestinian flag on the roof of the factory.

The building was daubed with red paint.

“So far, activists have broken into the factory to dismantle drone and aircraft machinery, have destroyed property including floodlights, ventilators, windows and cameras, have sprayed blood-red paint across premises and are currently occupying the roof to prevent operations at the site,” Palestine Action said.

The group said: “Israel’s war crimes and Elbit’s production of drones to facilitate these rely on thousands of complicit suppliers, landlords, shippers, financiers and more for their effective operations.

“It should be clear by now that we will not rest until Elbit is shut down, making the choice clear for all complicit firms: cease dealings with Elbit, or get shut down along with them.”

Cheshire Police said on Friday afternoon that the incident had now "concluded".

"Two men and one woman have been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and aggravated trespass. One was arrested for failing to appear at court," police said.

The occupation of the plant came a day after Palestine Action took action against the headquarters of LaSalle Investment Management, the landlord of Elbit's London office.

Last month the group also staged a protest at a factory in Leicester owned by an Elbit subsidiary.

Updated: June 11, 2021 08:43 PM

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