About three dozen activists from BDS France, the campaign supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel, protested the presence of Israeli arms companies at the Paris Air Show last Saturday.
The activists surrounded the pavilion of Elbit Systems, the firm that makes drones used during Israel’s massacres in Gaza, most recently its attack last summer that killed more than 2,200 people, including 551 children, according to UN figures.
An independent UN Human Rights Council inquiry published this week found evidence of numerous war crimes by Israeli forces, most likely approved at the highest level of the Israeli government.
The video above shows the activists at the Le Bourget airfield announcing “this is a nonviolent intervention to denounce the presence of Israeli war criminal companies.”
As some lay on the ground in a “die in,” a display model of an Israeli-built Hermes drone can be seen behind them.
As one of the activists announces their support for BDS, a passerby can be heard shouting “boycott is illegal in France” – perhaps an approving reference to the judicial repression French authorities have used to try to silence the Palestinian rights campaign.
The activists also demonstrated at the stand of the French arms company Thales, where they protested its cooperation with Elbit to manufacture the “Watchkeeper” drone.
They chanted, “Gaza, Gaza, we won’t forget,” called for an arms embargo on Israel and urged “Boycott apartheid Israel.”
In a press release, BDS France says that many people attending the air show, the world’s premier aviation industry event, thanked the activists for their action. But police eventually intervened, taking down the names of all the activists and escorting them out of the air show in groups.
The video shows police leading some of the activists out as they continue to chant.
“BDS France considers that Israeli companies present at the air show are accomplices to war crimes and should be tried and condemned by an international court. Instead, France welcomes them with open arms and allows them to do business with total impunity,” the statement adds.
Several other Israeli weapons makers, including Israel Aircraft Industries and Rafael, were present at the air show.
On 6 July, activists in the UK are planning to shut down an Elbit-owned factory near Birmingham that makes drone engines.
The action is timed to mark the first anniversary of the start of Israel’s assault on Gaza.