A group of twelve activists carried out an act of civil disobedience on Monday by conducting a sit-in at the office of US Senator Diane Feinstein in California, and another group was arrested in Melbourne Australia while occupying an Israeli drone-manufacturing plant and calling for an end to the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.Direct actions in support of the Palestinian people have been organized in many parts of the world, including a four-day long action in Oakland California that ended on Tuesday after blockading an Israeli ship set to unload goods into the Port of Oakland, Saturday.
In Melbourne, protesters began an occupation of a drone manufacturing plant last week – seven have been arrested so far. The plant they are occupying is owned by the Israeli weapons company Elbit, and is used to manufacture weaponized drones.
One of the organizer of the Melbourne protest told reporters, ‘By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel’s military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.’
In California, one of the protesters who was arrested at the sit-in at Dianne Feinstein’s office, Estee Chandler, told journalist Nora Barrows-Friedman, “The reason why we’re here is because if we leave, we go back to the status quo, we go back to Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer’s supporting without any reservations anything and everything that the Israeli government does. It doesn’t seem to matter if it breaks American laws, like the Arms Export Control Act, or other laws — they come out, they’ll say what they need to say, they’ll never talk about whether Palestinians have a right to exist, or have a right to feed their children and have them go to school safely — they’ll just talk about Israel’s right to defend itself. And we think that the status quo of accepting their words and watching their deeds has to end.”
When Senator Feinstein refused to meet with her constituents, they occupied her office and remained in place until police were called and led them away in handcuffs.
The protesters in Melbourne who occupied the Elbit plant said they were inspired by a similar action in England in which activists occupied another plant owned by the same company – nine were arrested in the British sit-in.
One of those arrested in the Australian action, Jacob Grech, told local reporters, ‘Melbourne is one of the most livable cities in the world and we believe that most Melbournians would be shocked to learn that a company operating drones that kill women and children in hospitals and schools is operating in here in the leafy suburb of Port Melbourne’.