(JTA) — Seven British activists were acquitted of damaging a weapons factory after testifying that they did it to prevent alleged Israeli war crimes.
The men broke into an EDO MBM Technology building in January 2009, damaging the building, computer equipment and precision machinery, the BBC reported. They caused about $275,000 in damage and were charged with causing criminal damage.
The defendants admitted to their crime, but said they were acting with "lawful excuse," committing an offense to prevent what they say was a more serious crime by acting to prevent further alleged war crimes being committed by Israel against Gaza.
They believed that the company was manufacturing and selling military equipment to Israel for use in the West Bank and Gaza, in violation of British export laws. But EDO managing director Paul Hills denied in court that the company supplied parts to Israel while admitting that it did make parts for F-16 fighter planes.
Judge George Bathurst-Norman reportedly told the jury, “You may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered in that time.”
The verdict "sends a clear indication that sometimes direct action is the only option when all other avenues have failed," the defense attorney said.