The British bank Barclays has come under fire for its holdings in Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military company and the main supplier of drones used to attack and kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The bank is the named owner of $2.9 million worth of shares in Elbit.
More than 1.7 million people have signed a petition calling on Barclays to divest from “projects that finance illegal settlements and the oppressive occupation of the Palestinian people” and campaigners have occupied and protested at bank branches across the UK.
Elbit’s share price rose in July off the back of the extensive use of its technology during Israel’s summer massacre in Gaza, which killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including some 500 children.
The company advertises its products as “combat proven” and recently reported a backlog in orders worth $6.2 billion.
Through its holdings in Elbit Systems, Barclays is profiting directly from Israel’s deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. Such targeting has been described by Amnesty International and Palestinian human rights organizations as amounting to war crimes.
Barclays market analysts have also talked up Elbit shares, recently rating their stock as “positive.”
Call for action
Elbit Systems supplies Israel with Hermes drones that have been used to deliberately attack and kill Palestinian civilians, including during this summer’s onslaught on Gaza.
According to data from the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, armed drones killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza between 2000 and 2010.
Analysis of Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reports by drone researcher Mary Dobbing found that 800 drone strikes took place within a fifty-day period during Israel’s most recent attack on Gaza.
In a joint statement published last month, Palestinian student groups described Barclays as “complicit in the war crimes carried out in Gaza using Elbit’s equipment” and called on UK students to close their accounts with Barclays.
“Since Barclays refuse to end this unethical practice [of] 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,” the statement explains. more