Pro-Palestine protesters occupy Leicester drone factory

Palestine Action says aim is ‘to be as disruptive as possible’

Protesters scaled the roof of the factory in Leicester
Protesters scaled the roof of the factory in Leicester

Pro-Palestinian protesters have taken over a drone factory in Leicester, which they claim produces a type of drone used by the Israeli military.

The demonstrators said they scaled the roof and chained the gates at the factory of UAV Tactical Systems, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems and French firm Thales, on Wednesday to disrupt “production of arms and military technology”.

Images showed protesters on the roof spraying flares and holding a banner with their group name “Palestine Action”.

Demonstrators vowed to take their occupation of the Leicester factory, which manufactures unmanned aerial vehicles, into the night.

The Independent understands they were still at the site on Thursday.

The action comes amid deadly violence between Israel and Hamas, which has seen Israeli launch hundreds of airstrikes.

More than 227 Palestinians - including 64 children - have been killed and more than 1,600 wounded, according to the Gaza health ministry. Thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes amid the current fighting.

Hamas and other militant groups have fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities, with hundreds falling short and most of the rest intercepted or landing in open areas.

Twelve people in Israel - including two children - have been killed.

Palestine Action alleges the Leicester factory manufactures Hermes drones used by Israeli armed forces.

Leicestershire Police said they received a report in the early hours of Wednesday that a group had climbed onto the roof of a building.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, the force said they were “continuing to negotiate” with people on the roof of the site at Meridian Business Park.

The Independent understands the situation remained the same on Monday morning.

The group said their occupation aimed “to be as disruptive as possible”.

A firefighters’ union said they were called to the scene of commercial premise understood to manufacture drones for the Israeli military to ensure the safety of protesters on the roof.

“The Fire Brigades Union were made aware that the protesters were representing the Palestinian solidarity group Palestine Action,” a statement said.

“Union officials immediately reminded senior managers that as firefighters we are, and remain, a proud humanitarian service.”

It added: “Once the safety of those involved have been confirmed, Fire Brigades Union members withdrew from the incident.”

Graham Vaux, Leicestershire brigade chair, said the union stands “in support of Palestinian solidarity and the right to protest”.

Police said specially-trained officers were engaging with an “open dialgoue” with protesters on the roof on Wednesday evening and officers also facilitated another group’s “right to peaceful protest on the ground” at the site

The Independent has approached UAV, Elbit and Thales for comment.

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