Activists around the world have protested against Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems. Elbit Systems is the largest privately owned Israeli arms and security company, producing 85% percent of the drones and land-based equipment for the Israeli military.
Elbit is also a major arm exporter, as their equipment is “field-tested” on Palestinian people. Recently, they received a $180 million order from the Romanian Ministry of National Defense. The Australian branch of Elbit Systems is called “ELSA” (Elbit Systems of Australia).
Today, members of the Whistleblowers, Activists and Communities Alliance (WACA) protested Elbit at its office in Port Melbourne, Victoria. Protesters displayed banners reading, “Elbit drones kill kids”, “Ceasefire” and “Zionism is fascism”.
Protesters also noted that the Australian branch name, “ELSA”, has been removed from the building directory, and the signage outside the building.
These protests are part of a global backlash against Elbit and its active involvement in the oppression of Palestine, primarily led by pro-Palatestine activist group, Palestine Action,. Today, students and activists protested Elbit at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston where Elbit was recruiting students at a convention.
Earlier this month, protesters also blockaded the entrance to Elbit’s facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts, pouring red paint in front of the building. The facility has since been covered in red paint, with the ID scanners to the buildings smashed and disabled.
Activists in the United Kingdom have also taken action against iO Associates, a company in the UK which recruits workers for Elbit. Earlier this month, activists sprayed offices with red paint in Manchester, Bristol, London and Reading, and activists entered the new offices in Manchester to protest against Elbit in September. Elbit UK’s job vacancies were temporarily removed following the protest but are now available on the website again.
Last week, WACA held a similar protest at Elbit’s Port Melbourne Office on 19 October before its action today. At this protest, one person was arrested by the police. A spokesperson from WACA said in a statement, “We condemn the complicity of the Australian government with Israeli crimes against humanity. We demand that the federal and state governments cancel all contracts with Elbit Systems.
“We call on RMIT to end its lucrative partnership with Elbit Systems. We do not need more efficient weapons systems, nor surveillance systems used to spy on activists or to stop asylum seekers fleeing to escape war. Australia must send food and medicine to Gaza, not more warfare!”
Activists, students, and staff also protested outside the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) to call for an end to RMIT’s partnership with Elbit on 19 October.
Last month, pro-Palestinian activists also hosted a similar action outside RMIT to protest its involvement with Elbit Systems.
In 2022, RMIT announced a two-year partnership with ELSA to develop drones for mass evacuations during natural disasters and other catastrophes. A number of sites where this information was available now display broken links, including an announcement of the deal on the Global Australia government website. Information around the deal is still available on this site.
RMIT has since released a statement on the matter:
“The RMIT University community has been greatly saddened by the reports of the Israel-Gaza conflict and its humanitarian impacts.
“Our thoughts are with those caught up in the violence and across our campuses waiting for news from family and friends. Our immediate priority has been to reach out to staff and students who might be impacted, providing them with support as they need it.
“With regard to partnerships, RMIT’s partnerships and collaborations stem from a deep commitment to innovation in undergraduate education, postgraduate research and employment opportunities and collaborative research projects.
“Importantly, RMIT does not design, develop or manufacture weapons or munitions in the university or as part of any partnership. With regard to Elbit Systems, RMIT does not have any research engagements underway with Elbit Systems.”