Protesters arrested after Palestine activists continue siege outside Leicester drone factory

26 protesters have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a criminal damage after remaining outside a drone factory in Leicestershire for a second day.

Activist group Palestine Action believe the UAV Tactical Systems factory in Braunstone is supplying weapons to the Israeli military.

The group has said it wants to shut down the factory and will stay for "as long as it takes."

Around 250 people protested at the business yesterday after claiming the Israeli-owned Elbit Systems UK - of which the factory is a subsidiary - produces parts for drones used against civilians.

The factory has denied the allegations claiming they are a suppling weapons to the Israeli military.

A spokesperson for UAV Tactical Systems said: "To be absolutely clear, U-TacS does not supply the Israeli military or Israeli Ministry of Defence. Any claims to the contrary are completely false."

Protesters want to shut down Elbit, an Israel-based international defense electronics company, of which the factory is a subsidiary.

Leicestershire Police has put in place specific conditions which protesters must follow to safely facilitate peaceful protest and prevent crime.

In statement on the second day of action the force said an estimated 40 people slept in the designated protest site, which despite a breach of conditions the police tolerated after community feedback.

However, a group of people, outside the designated area, camped in a wooded area, with some protesters in the trees.

Officers enter the wooded camp this morning to find protesters conspiring to commit criminal damage and were in breach of the S14 Public Order Act conditions.

Deputy Chief Constable, David Sandall said: "We have been very aware of how our actions could be perceived, listening to community feedback in terms of trying to get the balance right in regard our approach to fulfil our legal obligation to support peaceful protest whilst also supporting the business from becoming a victim of crime again.

"We have not taken the same approach to all those protesting, but altered our approach to try and get the balance right.

"Our officers have and continue to work extremely hard as our policing operation remains ongoing and we continue to facilitate peaceful protest at the site while taking police action against anyone who commits a public offence.”

Members of Palestine Action have been camping outside the factory. Credit: Leicester Media News

Leicestershire Police has imposed the following conditions to allow the group to protest safely while causing minimal disruption to people living, working and travelling in the area:

  • The assembly can only take place on the footpaths and highway 20m south of the entrance to Unit F on Meridian East.

  • Access to the assembly area will only be from the Meridian East via Centurion Way, Watergate Lane, Lubbesthorpe Way and Meridian South.

  • The above conditions will be in place for the next seven days

  • Structures should not to be erected on the highway or adjoining public paths.

The conditions came into place at 6.30pm on Sunday (April 30), and will remain until Sunday May 7th.

What's going on in Palestine?

Conflict between Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank has been rising for years, but tensions have risen further over the past few months.

The current violence is mainly taking place in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - areas occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war.

Over a handful of days last year, Israel was rocked by a series of deadly Palestinian attacks.

The Israeli military launched an open-ended operation in the West Bank in response to weaken the militant groups and attacks from Palestine.

However, the Palestine leaders say the attacks are aimed at breaking down a more powerful military.

The fighting has led to nightly raids into the occupied territories, houses and cars being burnt, and drive-by shootings.

Action is expected to last several days, with many protesters saying they have enough food to last a week.

Palestine Action's protest is expected to be the biggest in Leicestershire since 2021, when Palestine Action occupied the roof of the factory.

The group has suggested hundreds of people will join over the next week.

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