As part of the World Council of Churches' Week of Peace for Palestine and Israel members of the 'Midlands Churches Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel' gathered for a prayer vigil yesterday outside the factory of UAV Engines Ltd, Shenstone, near Lichfield. This is an Israeli owned company that makes engines for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones. UAVs that were used by the Israeli defence Force in their war on Gaza in 2008/9 and the weapons they dropped killed and maimed hundreds of civilians, including women and children.
UAV engines is owned by Silver Arrow which are an Israeli Drone Specialist and subsidary of Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems.
Coming from different churches in the West Midlands, the group joined in in prayers and silent reflection to remember all those who suffer as a result of the use the conflict in Palestine and Israel. During the vigil Warren Bardsley, from Lichfield and Ann Farr, from Coventry, attempted to meet with the managers of the factory and to present a letter to them but when they approached the door the metal shutters were closed and the staff member who opened the door in response the door bell, shut it hastily in their faces. A number of peace vigils have been held at the factory but on no occasion have the factory management been prepared to meet with the peace campaigners. This time the letter was posted under the closed door in the hope that it will be read and responded to.
Warren and Ann are former Ecumenical Accompaniers who have served for three months as Human Rights Observers in the West Bank on the World Council of Churches Programme in Palestine and Israel.
The vigil was dedicated to Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish whose three daughters and niece were killed in the Israeli bombing of Gaza when bombs landed on his home while he was working in a nearby Israeli hospital where he treated both Israeli and Palestinian patients. Dr Abuelaish has since devoted his life to working for peace and reconciliation and has toured the Midlands telling his story and talking of his refusal to hate those who killed his family. See www.daughtersforlife.com
Following the prayer vigil there was a short peace service in the nearby Shenstone Methodist Church during which those who have devoted their lives to peace were remembered.
For more details on the week, see: www.worldweekforpeace.org
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