1st December 2014
Protesters target Barclays Bank in Canterbury for investments in Israeli arms company
On 29th November1, campaigners from towns across East Kent staged a protest outside Barclays Bank in Canterbury. The protest was part of a nation-wide campaign2 to pressure the bank to sell its investment in Elbit Systems – Israel’s largest arms company and a world leader in the manufacture of drones. Elbit Systems is a major provider of weapons to the Israeli Defence Force and proudly advertises its weapons as ‘battle tested’.
The results of that ‘testing’ during the summer of 2014 could be seen in the massive destruction of Gaza. Entire neighbourhoods were destroyed, mosques, schools, hospitals, apartment blocks and even UN relief compounds were targeted. 2,150 Palestinians lost their lives, of which over 500 were children. International organisations spoke of war crimes.
Barclays Bank holds $3 million of shares in Elbit Systems despite claiming to have divested from the arms industry. Campaigners have vowed to keep up pressure on the bank to sell these shares and withdraw support from a military company which continues to be responsible for war crimes. An online petition has nearly 2 million signatures.
“As Palestinians we suffer immeasurably from attacks by drones supplied by Elbit Systems. Barclays and other companies linked to the arms trade with Israel are profiting directly from Israel’s massacres… We call on governments around the world to do the very least they can to stop Israel from carrying out more massacres of our people by imposing a military embargo on Israel. Such steps would be in line with growing public support for our struggle and for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign,”
Abdulrahman Abunahel from the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Participants at the Canterbury protest called on members of the public to join in the growing campaign to boycott Barclays while it continues to invest in Elbit Systems. Many compare today’s campaign to the ‘Boycott Barclays’ protests of 40 years ago, when the bank was heavily involved in supporting the apartheid regime in South Africa.
1. 29 November is the official UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
2. Protests on Saturday against Barclays took place in more than 15 UK towns around the country. Several branches were shut down for business. See https://storify.com/PalestineAction/stoparmingisrael-day-of-action-against-barclays