Friday, 10 October 2014

Palestinian students call for Barclays boycott over Elbit investment

The Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI), a group of Palestinian students in Gaza dedicated to the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign of Israel and the global justice movement for Palestinian justice and liberty, respectfully call on students around the world to stop banking with Barclays until Barclays divests from and ceases trading in shares in Elbit Systems, the major Israeli military company and drone manufacturer. As Palestinians we suffer immeasurably from drone attacks. In 2012 and 2013, drones have killed more of us in Gaza than any other aircraft. As Palestinian Human Rights organisation Al-Mezan point out, drones are so deadly because “they are in the sky all the time, and they (the Israeli air force) don’t have to plan the attack properly beforehand.” Al Mezan found that, “When Israeli forces started to use drones, the number of people killed increased.”

Ayah Bashir, a Gaza-based BDS activist, said: “during the latest Israeli massacre in Gaza, we knew of the ground invasion even before the formal announcement. We heard the sounds of the drones getting louder in a crazy way, as if they were on steroids. In fact, their sound and volume became an indicator for us as to what is coming. Their buzzing sounds were piercing our ears creating cancers in our heads. They were hovering day and night without stopping and we wished they would cease for minutes so that we could sleep. It was funny that my sister and I tried helplessly using earplugs that never helped. At night and when Gaza sank into darkness without electricity, they were both the source of light illuminating the sky and death. They were in such incredibly large numbers that we used to joke saying that Israel is ordering one drone for each person in Gaza.”

“I used to contemplate these drones during the days of the attack. Sometimes, when I can’t stand being trapped inside the house, I would go to the roof and watch them while my father would demand that I come down because they always target us recalling the story of the three children from the Shuhaibar family in the Sabra neighbourhood of Gaza City who were killed while they were just playing on their roof.” “I often dwell on the persisting and disturbing memories of the drones and think of what an airplane represents in any other place. There, they are a means of transport that facilitate people’s lives. Here, in Gaza, they are a constant source of danger as they may kill you if they identify you as a threat, so much easier and quicker than you could ever imagine.” Despite Elbit drones being used to commit war crimes in Gaza, Barclays bank is currently the listed as the owner of 50,217 shares in Elbit worth more than $3m.

Barclays has tried to absolve itself of any responsibility by saying its shares in Elbit are held on behalf of clients and to “hedge exposure”. Yet Barclays is profiting from holding shares in Elbit on behalf of its clients and the practise of “hedging” is a form of financial investment. By trading and holding shares in Elbit Systems, Barclays is deeply complicit in the war crimes carried out in Gaza using Elbit’s equipment. Since Barclays refuse to end this unethical practice investing and dealing in shares in Elbit despite the fact that their drones kill us, our children, our parents, our brothers, sisters and friends, we ask for students to close their student Barclays account and tell Barclays why. We know that boycotts by students are very effective. During the South African apartheid era, Barclays owned a South African subsidiary bank that made loans to the apartheid government and purchased millions in South African defence bonds. In solidarity with those being oppressed, British students closed their Barclays student accounts and encouraged others to do so. This caused Barclays share of the student market to drop from 27% to 15%. Encouraged by the students’ action, local councils, teachers associations and charities followed suit until Barclays permanently closed its South African subsidiary, having lost millions of pounds in closed bank accounts. We welcome the decision by the UK National Union of Students to adopt BDS and the wave of divestment campaigns that has swept across North America in the past year.

We are certain that a similar campaign by student activists to switch bank accounts away from Barclays will pressure Barclays to stop investing and trading in Elbit Systems.

Signed by:

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
Gaza BDS Working Group
One Democratic State Group
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine

Palestinian family attacked by settlers while harvesting olives

From the International Solidarity Movement - Tuesday afternoon, the 7th of October, olive farmer Mahmoud Rga Mahoud Aid, his wife and their three children were attacked by a group of settlers from the illegal settlement of Giv’at Ya’akov. The attack took place on the family´s land near the village of Burin, south west of Nablus.

The the family had only three days permission from the District Coordination Office (DCO) to access their land and pick their olives, starting from the 6th of October. To harvest all the olives on the land would normally take about a month.

On the first day of picking, Zionist settlers came down from the illegal settlement and tried to prevent Mahmoud from entering his land. The Israeli military interfered and told the settlers to leave, and Mahmoud was able to finish his working day without further interference from the settlers.

On the second day of picking the family was able to access the land, but, in the midst of picking, the nearby soldiers started yelling at them, ”They are coming, they are coming for you!”

Mahmoud looked up and saw five male settlers wearing masks coming down from the hill towards him and his family. The settlers started throwing rocks at them and Mahmoud tried to protect his family by covering them with the tarpaulin used to collect the olives in. This helped for a while, but the settlers came closer and physically attacked Mahmoud. They continuously hit him in the chest, stomach and the head, and his foot was badly bruised by a stone thrown by the settlers.

The Israeli soldiers watched the settlers attack the family, but didn’t react until a considerable amount of time had passed. Eventually they came down from the hill and told the settlers to leave the area. more

PA forces to take control of Gaza crossings on Sunday

The Palestinian Authority is set to assume responsibility for the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings in Gaza on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Mustafa said.

Mustafa, who is also head of a reconstruction committee for Gaza, told Ma'an Friday that the PA will take charge of building materials entering Gaza and the movement of Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank.

Representatives in the health, agriculture, housing and civil affairs ministries will be in charge of monitoring materials for their respective sector.

The first step must be for Israel to provide the promised facilitation of construction materials, adding that the process of rebuilding the heavily damaged Gaza Strip depends on the amount of international donor funds.

According to the terms of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, materials entering the Gaza Strip will be checked to ensure no weapons enter the tiny coastal enclave. more

UNRWA to make biggest ever Gaza aid plea

The UN's Palestinian refugee agency is to make its largest ever financial plea to donors, it said on Thursday, asking for $1.6 billion to rehabilitate war-battered Gaza.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas-led Gaza militants, which ended on Aug. 26, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 people on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

"This is the largest single ask in UNRWA's 64-year history," spokesman Christopher Gunness said ahead of an Oct. 12 donors' conference in Cairo.

"The figure we are requesting at Cairo is $1.6 billion, which makes this ... unprecedented," he said, adding nearly half of that would go towards rebuilding homes damaged during 50 days of war in July and August.

It destroyed tens of thousands of houses, as well as key infrastructure, and left some 100,000 Gazans homeless.

UNRWA outlined its post-war emergency plan in 15-page document, a copy of which was seen by AFP. more