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Putting Arms Exports To Israel On Trial

THE BACKGROUND STORY

Bristol Decommissioners on trial, 7th June 2010 in Hove Crown Court.

On January 17th 2009 the bombs had already fallen relentlessly for three weeks on Gaza. Massive demonstrations had been held locally and worldwide to protest against the Israeli attacks. MP’s said talks were going on and Tony Blair went to Israel to shake hands with the Israeli Prime Minister. The body count was nearing 1400 and 300 of those were children. With UN compounds and schools bombed, emergency vehicles attacked and indiscriminate weapons such as white phosphorous being used against civilians. A growing sense of helplessness was pervading the anti-war/peace movement.

On the night of the 17th a ‘citizens decommissioning’ took place at weapons manufacturer EDO/MBM/ITT in Moulsecoomb, Brighton. Just after midnight Robert Stafford age 28, Elija Smith 41, Tom Woodhead 25, Ornella Saibene 40, Bob Nicholls 53 entered EDO’s premises with the aim in Elija Smith’s words to ‘smash it up to the best of our ability’. Once inside the building they barricaded themselves in and set about their mission.

Machinery used to make bomb release mechanisms ( these carry and eject missiles from fighter planes and unmanned ‘drones’) and an assembly area for the electronic components were put out of action. EDO make a VER2 mechanism which is designed for the F16 fighter and used by the Israeli Defence Force.

The six caused £300,000 of damage but more importantly stopped the supply chain that the war machine needs. The decommissioners were peaceably arrested and charged with criminal damage and conspiracy.
Elija Smith has been held on remand in Lewes Prison, Brighton since then. The others are under very strict bail conditions. It has been important to give financial and moral support to Elija. This has included many fund raising events, stalls and letter writing sessions. Their trial commences on 7th June 2010 in Hove Crown Court.

Financial support will be greatly appreciated as  5 have to live in Brighton without income for possibly 7 weeks.  This site contains videos and reports by organisations such as Amnesty International which confirms the Israeli Governments disregard for International and Humanitarian Law ( Law of wars).

The decommissioners are part of a growing international anti-militarist movement.
Bob Nicholls, who has worked with the homeless for many years, states the reasons for being against the corporate military machine are:

‘War becomes the only method of conflict resolution.
We are all brutalised by the glorification of war, violence and guns.
Wars cause much of the migration and refugee problems worldwide.
Military weapons manufacture consumes vast financial and material resources which could be used elsewhere in society.’

12 Responses to “THE BACKGROUND STORY”

  1. Ian said

    Israeli minister Ehud Barak faces war crimes arrest threat during UK visitPosted by Iqbal Tamimi on September 30, 2009 at 6:45pm
    View Iqbal Tamimi’s blog
    By Ian Black and Ian Cobain

    Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak. Photograph: Reuters

    Israel received an uncomfortable reminder of international anger over the Gaza war today when lawyers representing 16 Palestinians asked a London court to issue an arrest warrant for its defence minister, Ehud Barak, who is visiting Britain.

    After a day of delays and legal wrangling the bid failed on the grounds that Barak enjoyed diplomatic immunity from prosecution. But the episode triggered a brief storm that is likely to give Israeli officials second thoughts about the risk of prosecution in foreign courts.

    Barak was last night addressing a fringe meeting at the Labour party conference in Brighton, and is due to meet Gordon Brown and David Miliband, the foreign secretary‑— triggering new protests.

    Furious Israeli officials insisted all day that he was protected by diplomatic immunity and could not be legally detained.

    The action related to alleged war crimes and breaches of the Geneva conventions during the Gaza offensive, launched by Israel last December in response to Palestinian rocket attacks and widely criticised. The death toll is disputed, but the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem says 1,387 Palestinians died, including 773 people not taking part in hostilities.

    Solicitors asked a district judge at the City of Westminster magistrates court to issue a warrant for the minister’s arrest under the 1988 Criminal Justice Act, which gives courts in England and Wales universal jurisdiction in war crimes cases.

    The hearing was postponed while the court asked the Foreign Office to clarify Barak’s status in the UK. The lawyers making the application said they believed a warrant could be issued even if he was in Britain in an official capacity.

    Intensive contacts were understood to have taken place throughout the day between London and Jerusalem. Barak is also deputy prime minister of Israel and leader of the country’s Labour party.

    Lawyers from Irvine Thanvi Natas and Imran Khan & Partners said they believed the warrant that the international criminal court issued in May last year for the arrest of Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, offered a precedent. Bashir is accused of committing war crimes in Darfur.

    The issue is politically explosive. Israel’s ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, lambasted the move as the “continuation of the process of demonisation and the de-legitimisation of Israel,” and called the action “spiteful”.

    Deputy district judge Daphne Wickham said allegations of war crimes had been well documented, but added: “I am satisfied that under customary international law Mr Barak has immunity from prosecution as he would not be able to perform his functions efficiently if he were the subject of criminal proceedings in this jurisdiction.”

    The accusations were based, in part, on a UN investigation conducted by the former South African judge Richard Goldstone. It concluded this month that Israel had committed war crimes by deliberately attacking civilians and firing white phosphorus shells. Israel rejected its findings as irredeemably biased. The 575-page report also found that Hamas, the group controlling Gaza, may be guilty of committing war crimes by firing rockets at Israeli civilian targets.

    Goldstone warned that unless Israel conducted investigations conforming to international standards, its officials could face action by the international criminal court or national prosecutions of the kind attempted in London.

    Michel Massih QC, for the applicants, argued that the court needed to be satisfied only that Barak faced war crimes allegations, and that the question of immunity should be considered only after his arrest. Massih added that international law “places a direct responsibility not only on those who pull the trigger, but on those higher up the chain of command”.

    Israeli media reported that Barak had been warned about the impending legal action and urged to leave the UK for France. But he had decided to carry on with his schedule as there was no doubt he enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

    In 2005, human rights groups criticised British authorities for failing to arrest Doron Almog, an Israeli general for whom an arrest warrant for alleged war crimes had been issued, when his aircraft landed at Heathrow. Almog stayed on the plane and was allowed to return to Israel.

    In June a Spanish court shelved an investigation launched into a July 2002 air strike by Israel on a Hamas target in the Gaza Strip. The suspects named included the former Israeli defence minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and six current or former officers or security officials.

    Massih said: “If the Israeli courts were themselves to investigate, there would be no need to have recourse to international tribunals.”

    The Council for Arab-British Understanding condemned Brown for agreeing to meet Barak. “It is a disgrace to fete a man who is imposing one of the harshest sieges ever imposed on a civilian population, one that has deprived them even of the most basic necessities of life,” said the council’s director, Chris Doyle. “It is vital that British ministers send out a strong signal that Britain will stand up for international law and justice and refuse to meet Ehud Barak.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/29/ehud-barak-war-crimes-israel

  2. […] Bristol Decommissioners on trial in Brighton Crown Court. On January 17th 2009 the bombs had already fallen relentlessly for three weeks on Gaza. Massive demonstrations had been held locally and worldwide to protest against the Israeli attacks. MP’s said talks were going on and Tony Blair went to Israel to shake hands with the Israeli Prime Minister. The body count was nearing 1400 and 300 of those were children. With UN compounds and schools bombed, emergency vehicles attacked and indiscriminate weapons such white phosphorous being used against civilians. A growing sense of helplessness was pervading the anti-war/peace movement. […]

  3. […] 5 other anti-militarists from Bristol were arrested in Brighton. They had spent the previous night decommissioning the EDO/MBM/ITT factory in Brighton, in an attempt to stop it providing parts for weapons being used by the Israeli army to bomb […]

  4. […] THE BACKGROUND STORY – TIME TO DECOMMISSION […]

  5. […] 20, 2009 · Leave a Comment Today 20 December marks 11 months on remand for EDO Decommissioner Elijah (James) Smith. That’s 11 months locked away in a shitty little cell, deprived of all […]

  6. […] on May 17. Coming up soon on the weekend of 16/17 January it will be exactly one year since they decommissioned the EDO/ITT factory in Brighton. On the 16th there will be a fundraiser for the campaign at The Plough in Easton. On the 18th […]

  7. […] 11, 2010 by kebelesound Exactly 1 year on from the decommissioning of the EDI ITT arms factory in Brighton by 6 Bristol anti-militarists, supporters of the 6 combine to present a rip snorting fundraiser for the defendants […]

  8. […] one year, ever since his arrest last 18 January 2009 after the EDO/MBM ITT factory in Brighton was trashed by 6 campaigners from Bristol. His and the other 5’s trial for that action commences on May 17 in Brighton […]

  9. […] committed were justified by the fact they acted to stop a far greater crime – namely that by decommissioning the EDO MBM/ITT arms factory in Brighton they would contribute to stopping the Israeli state from bombing Gazan civilians during […]

  10. […] March 14, 2010 · Leave a Comment Some fairly urgent updates on the Bristol EDO Decommissioners […]

  11. […] sees the long-awaited start of the trial of the EDO Decommissioners, some 17 months after their action to shut down the EDO ITT/MBM arms factory in Brighton. At long last they will have their day in court and, if […]

  12. […] employment over scab jobs. However, as I’ve argued previously, the fact that six people can put a munitions factory out of action and then be acquited of all charges on the back of a significant support campaign and the sympathy […]

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