Activist on trial for damaging UK sites of Israeli arms maker says he was justified | Protest #Activist #trial #damaging #sites #Israeli #arms #maker #justified #Protest

A co-founder of Palestine Action on trial with others for damaging an Israeli arms manufacturer’s UK sites has said they were justified because they were trying to stop people being bombed.

Richard Barnard, 51, and seven other defendants are accused of charges relating to actions against Elbit Systems Limited, which he said Palestine Action aims to “shut down”.

On Friday, the first day of the defence case, Barnard, giving evidence, said he was inspired to take action by his Catholic faith, stories he heard while working with refugees in Dover and the fact that a subsidiary of Elbit – Instro Precision – had an arms factory near where he lived in Kent.

“The idea was – and the idea still is – to end the British complicity in the Israeli apartheid regime,” he told the jury. “I am trying to prevent war crimes … I am trying to stop bombings and trying to stop drones [in Palestine].”

He referred to “40 people killed this morning in occupied Palestine”. Recalling how he came to become involved in the Palestinian cause, he told the court he had viewed harrowing videos of deaths including those of four children from the same Bakr family killed by a drone strike launched by Israel while they were playing football on the beach.

Barnard said his actions were justified in law because they were aimed at preventing Elbit from continuing its trade.

Asked by his lawyer Rupert Bowers KC whether he denied causing damage, Barnard replied, “Not at all.” He was then asked why he considered the damage not to be criminal in law.

“The only criminals here are Elbit Systems,” he replied. “They are the people killing people for profit, they are the ones facilitating genocide as we speak.”

Quizzed by Bowers about Palestine Action’s tactics, Barnard said: “This company are only concerned with killing people and maintaining the illegal occupation of Palestine. Asking nicely is not going to work.”

Referring to other companies allegedly associated with Elbit on a written list complied by Palestine Action, he said the idea was that they were “going to be woken up by this” and would not want to be involved with the Israeli arms manufacturer’s trade once they knew about it. One of the names on the list was the Crown Estate, and Barnard maintained that King Charles would not want to be associated with Elbit.

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Beginning the cross-examination for the prosecution, Sally Hobson asked Barnard whether the intention was to shut Elbit down through peaceful or non-peaceful direct action. Barnard said the aim was to “dismantle the war machine” and so achieve a peaceful goal. Pressed on the methods, and whether he would use violence, he said he did not consider damaging property to be violent.

Barnard, Palestine Action co-founder Huda Ammori, Caroline Brouard, Jocelyn Cooney, Robin Refualu, Genevieve Scherer, Nicola Deane and Emily Arnott deny all the offences they are charged with, which are said to have occurred between June 2020 and February 2021.

The trial continues.

#Activist #trial #damaging #sites #Israeli #arms #maker #justified #Protest

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