Palestine Action pair sent to prison for dismantling weapons factory Elbit Systems

Middle East Monitor  /  May 24, 2023

Two people who took direct action to dismantle and occupy a weapons factory were given prison sentences on Tuesday after pleading guilty to charges of criminal damage. A third person who took part in the action was acquitted at Chester Crown Court.

Scientist Mike Lynch-White was sentenced to 27 months in prison. The other was sentenced to 16 months. Half of a custodial sentence is normally served in prison.

Lynch-White was on remand for three months prior to the sentencing for taking direct action with the climate group Burning Pink, and may face a further custodial sentence for his involvement in the group Heathrow Pause.

The three occupied the APPH site in June 2021 as part of a wider campaign to immobilize Israel’s military supply chain in Britain. APPH is a supplier of drone landing gear to Elbit Systems, specifically to its Leicester-based subsidiary UAV Tactical Systems, a company known to export drones regularly and directly to Israel.

APPH supplies landing gear for UAV Tactical System’s Watchkeeper drone project. The Watchkeeper is a British drone which has been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is based upon Israel’s Hermes drone, also produced by Elbit.

The Hermes is a staple for the Israeli military, and is advertised and sold as “battle-tested” having been used against the captive Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

APPH also produces the landing gear for BAE Systems’ Hawkjet, used by Saudi Arabia in its attacks on Yemen, as well as a number of other fighter jets and military helicopters.

“I have seen how the Palestinian people are at best second-class citizens in their own ever-shrinking land,” said Mike Lynch-White. “Clearly, this is apartheid. We have denounced and defeated it before and we must do so again. This is not complicated: stand with the defenceless, not the powerful.”

According to a spokesperson for Palestine Action, “The prison sentences demonstrate the state’s desperation to protect Israel’s military supply chain, over the lives of Palestinians and the liberty of activists in Britain. Both acted to disrupt the military industrial complex which profits from the blood of the Palestinian people and the apartheid regime by which they are subjugated. For this, they should be rewarded, not imprisoned.”

Despite the continued attempts at intimidation to deter actions against Israel’s arms trade, the spokesperson added, the movement grows day by day.

Palestine Action is a direct-action network of groups and individuals formed with the mandate of acting against the sites of Elbit Systems and other companies complicit in Israeli apartheid. The network calls for all such sites to be shut down.