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In first, UK university divests from firms supplying Israel army

Students hold a protest calling for an end of Israel’s occupation on Gaza at Leeds University, UK on 5 May 2018
MEMO | November 5, 2018

In the first move of its kind, a UK university has divested from companies that supply military equipment to the Israeli army following a student campaign.

The University of Leeds this weekend made the decision to divest from three companies which were found to be complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights: Airbus, United Technologies and Keyence Corporation. A fourth company – HSBC – is also under review by the university’s investment managers for its provision of loans to Elbit Systems, Caterpillar and BAE Systems, all of which sell weapons and military equipment to the Israeli government.

The move came after it emerged that the University of Leeds had invested £2.4 million ($3.1 million) in these companies this year alone. The sum was revealed by a Freedom of Information request dating back to August, under which the British public can demand access to information held by public authorities.

Students, staff, societies and alumni of the university then published an open letter to the Vice Chancellor calling for the cessation of investment in the four firms. The letter stated that: “In summer 2014, 2,251 Palestinians were killed, including 526 children, by the Israeli Defence Force in the attacks on Gaza […] the artillery used to carry out this destruction were made by Elbit Systems, funded by HSBC. The fighter jets employed by the IDF were maintained by United Technologies. The helicopters which patrol Gaza’s sea border are supplied by Airbus. Further military activity was aided by the equipment provided by Keyence Corporation. The University of Leeds knowingly enables this activity by investing in these companies.”

Our university should not enable military occupation. Our tuition fees should not fund killing. Our education should not be at the expense of a person’s life.

The move has been hailed as a victory for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Co-President of the Leeds Palestine Solidarity Group, Evie Russell-Cohen, explained: “It’s clear that the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is being heard in the UK. Students are no longer willing to see their tuition fees funding weapons companies which profit from the killing of Palestinians. This is a massive success, but we hope that it will only be the beginning of a wave change across UK Universities.”

Calls for UK universities to review their investments in companies known to assist the Israeli army have been growing in recent months. In April, activists at the University of Manchester exposed a web of connections between the university and several weapons companies, including Israel Aerospace Industries which produced drones used during Israel’s 2014 assault on the besieged Gaza Strip. The University of Manchester had previously tried to conceal its links to such companies until the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – the body regulating data protection in the UK – found the university to be in contravention of the Freedom of Information Act, the same act which enabled University of Leeds students to force their institution to divest.

November 5, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How the Israel Lobby Works in Britain

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.11.2017

The government of the United Kingdom is in a state of turmoil, mainly because it lacks authority as a result of holding an election in which the Conservative party was unexpectedly dealt a severe blow to its pride and popularity. Since then its indecision and incompetence have been complicated by scandal, of which the latest involved enforced resignations of two cabinet ministers, one because he indulged in sexual harassment, and the latest, the Overseas Aid minister, Ms Priti Patel, because she told lies to the prime minister about a visit to Israel.

Ms Patel admitted that her actions “fell below the high standards expected of a secretary of state” which was certainly the case, because she told lies; but her low standard expeditions appear to have involved some intriguing antics. It was reported that in August she went on “a secret trip to Israel with a lobbyist, during which she held 12 meetings, including one with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, without informing either [Prime Minister] May or Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary.” It is amazing that she could have imagined that British intelligence services would not report her movements and meetings in the daily brief, but this did not stop her telling the Guardian newspaper that “Boris knew about the visit. The point is that the Foreign Office did know about this, Boris knew about [the visit to Israel]. It is not on, it is not on at all. I went out there, I paid for it, and there is nothing else to this. It is quite extraordinary. It is for the Foreign Office to go away and explain themselves.”

But it wasn’t the Foreign Office that had to explain things, because this was yet another squalid deception by a grubby little politician — for whatever reason she may have had to try to disguise her motives. Her assertion that “I went on holiday and met with people and organisations . . . It is not about who else I met, I have friends out there,” didn’t ring true, and the media discovered a whole raft of deceit.

Not only did she have a dozen meetings with “friends” in Israel, but, as revealed by the Sun newspaper, “on September 7, Ms Patel met Israeli Minister for Public Security Gilad Erdan for talks in the House of Commons. Then, on September 18, she met Israel’s Foreign Ministry boss Yuval Rotem while in New York at the UN General Assembly. Ms Patel would not last night [November 6] disclose what the meetings were about. She had seen both men in Tel Aviv in August . . .”

She was accompanied on her holiday in Israel by a British peer, Lord Polak, who attended all her meetings with Israel’s best and brightest, including Prime Minister Netanyahu. And Polak went with her to New York, with his flight being paid for by the Israeli consulting firm ISHRA, which “offers a wide range of client services.” Polak was also present when she had discussions with the Israeli Minister for Public Security at the House of Commons before she went to New York.

Lord Polak

Lord Polak didn’t have far to walk to the House of Commons because he is a member of the adjacent House of Lords, Britain’s unelected upper chamber of Parliament, which is a travesty of democracy. It makes a mockery of social equality and far too many of its members are generous donors to political parties or failed politicians who have been “kicked upstairs” to well-recompensed relaxation as compensation for years of political toadying. There are 800 members of the House, making it the second-largest legislative assembly in the world, after China’s National People’s Congress (although it has to be borne in mind that China has a population of 1.3 billion as against Britain’s 65 million).

In short, the House of Lords is a farcical disgrace. But it still has much influence, because there is a great deal of money sloshing around, and there are people and political parties who control this money — like the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), an organisation that the Financial Times (FT) reports has “an estimated 80 per cent of Tory MPs as members.” And it is no coincidence that Lord Polak “spent a quarter of a century as head of the CFI . . . He quit as director in 2015 to join the House of Lords, but has remained the group’s honorary president.”

CFI is a wealthy organisation which the FT notes “has given £377,994 [495,000 US dollars] to the Conservative party since 2004, mostly in the form of fully-funded trips to Israel for MPs.” Not only that, but it gives large individual donations to Conservative members of parliament — and does anyone imagine for a moment that any politician so favoured is going to say a single word against Israel in any forum in any context?

They’ve been bought.

The CFI’s deep-pocket generosity includes holding an annual London dinner, at which last December the prime minister not only referred to Lord Polak as “the one and only Stuart Polak” but noted there were over 200 legislators present and declared she was “so pleased that the CFI has already taken 34 of the 74 Conservative MPs elected in 2015 to Israel.”

Money is the most important feature of UK-Israel relations, and May was thrilled about “our countries’ biggest-ever business deal, worth over £1 billion, when Israeli airline El Al decided to use Rolls Royce engines in its new aircraft.” It all comes down to money, and Israel, in receipt of oceans of cash from the United States, can splurge it where it wants.

Last year it was announced that the US “will give Israel $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade, the largest such aid package in US history, under a landmark agreement signed on [September 14]” which includes an annual amount of $3.3 billion in “foreign military financing.”

Britain can’t give Israel any money, as it is itself in a poor financial situation, but it tries to make up for lack of cash by unconditional political support. It doesn’t matter to Britain’s government that Israel is in violation of nearly 100 UN Security Council resolutions, almost all of them requiring its withdrawal from illegally occupied Arab lands. Don’t expect the United Kingdom to criticise the Israeli fiefdom.

The love-fest between Britain’s Conservative party and the state of Israel is not only unhealthy but suspiciously personal. There is little wonder that the British government has done its best to sweep the sordid Patel affair under the carpet, and that the intrigues of Lord Polak are being kept very quiet indeed.

Lord Polak is chair of the advisory board of TWC Associates, a “boutique consultancy specialising in the development of political strategy”, which lists among its clients several Israeli defence companies, including Elbit Systems which specialises in defence electronics.

In 2012 it was disclosed that TWC and Elbit Systems were involved in the appalling British “Generals for Hire” scandal when Elbit’s UK chairman told undercover Sunday Times reporters that TWC could gain access to government “from the prime minister down.” In this particularly revolting instance of corruption the British retired Lieutenant General Richard Applegate, then Chairman of TWC, boasted that TWC had enormous influence, through its connections with Conservative Friends of Israel. He declared that “We piggy back on something, and please don’t spread this around, to do with basically Conservative Friends of Israel… do a series of discreet engagements using advisers to gain access to particular decision makers.” Just as Ms Patel was doing in Tel Aviv and London and New York, with the shadowy but authoritative guidance of the creepy Polak.

There is a lot that is wrong in the United Kingdom at the moment, but the Israeli scandal is the most squalid pantomime yet to be revealed in the tenure of the present administration. The prime minister is desperate to conceal her government’s intimate association with Israel, and is achieving success by deflecting media attention away from the machinations of the Israeli lobby and selecting other targets. Her attack on Russia in a bizarre diatribe at a London banquet on November 13 was indicative of panic, but the headlines were obtained and the grubby Israel drama faded away into the background.

In the words of Prime Minister Theresa May on November 2, just as news of the Patel scandal was breaking, “We are proud to stand here today together with Prime Minister Netanyahu and declare our support for Israel. And we are proud of the relationship we have built with Israel.”

May and Netanyahu in London on November 2

The British public will never know what Patel, Polak and all the other agents of influence were scheming to achieve, or what fandangos they may get up to in the future, but we can be certain that the Britain-Israel alliance will continue to prosper.

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , | 3 Comments

UK to jail pro-Palestinian protesters

Press TV – August 20, 2017

A group of five pro-Palestinian activists in the UK face possible prison sentences after being arrested during protests outside an Israeli-owned weapons manufacturing company.

Charged with a breach of the Trade Union and Labor Relations Act, the protesters face at least six months in prison and a fine of up to £5,000, the media reported Sunday.

They were arrested in July following a protest in the West Midlands town of Shenstone that forced the UAV Engines Ltd plant, a subsidiary of Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems, to shut down all operations for two days.

The demonstration saw activists put small coffins outside the factory and lay down next to them to raise awareness about the Israeli regime’s record of killing Palestinian children over the years-long occupation of the country.

Palestine Action, the organization that helped organize the demonstration, said all of the accused would plead not guilty in the case.

“They [protesters] believe that the factory is complicit in illegal activity and that they were preventing a crime,” the group’s Birmingham and Manchester branches said in a statement.

A lawyer for the protesters said “the lawfulness of [Elbit and UAV Engine’s] activity in its factory” was one of the issues that they were going to discuss in the case.

Based in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Elbit produces range of military equipment, including drones, aircraft, weapon control systems, and artillery.

The company’s customers include the Israeli army, US Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, and the French Defense Ministry.

A group of European Banks and financial institutions have on several occasions boycotted the company for arming Israeli military forces despite growing criticism from the international community.

The efforts are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) global movement against Israeli companies.

The British government has been under increasing pressure from Israel to put a ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

A number of universities in the UK have already banned their students from holding events in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Iran announces sanctions on 15 US companies

Press TV – March 26, 2017

Iran has announced retaliatory sanctions on 15 American companies over their support for Israeli crimes and terrorism two days after Washington imposed bans on nearly a dozen foreign companies or individuals for aiding the Islamic Republic.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that these companies have directly and/or indirectly collaborated with the Israeli regime in committing its savage crimes in occupied Palestine, thrown their weight behind the regime’s terrorist acts or contributed to the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories in flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

Therefore, any transactions with these companies and businesses shall be prohibited, their assets shall be subject to freezing, and no visas shall be issued for individuals holding positions in or associated with these corporations, the statement further noted.

The ministry also said Washington’s unilateral bans were imposed on Tehran “under fabricated pretexts,” censuring the restrictive measures as a violation of “international law” as well as the spirit and text of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

On Friday, the US State Department said Washington had sanctioned 30 foreign companies or individuals for transferring sensitive technology to Iran for its missile program or violating export controls on Iran, North Korea and Syria.

The statement further emphasized Iran’s resolve to develop its peaceful missile power as part of the nation’s “inalienable” right to enhance its deterrence and defense might in the face of threats.

The US sanctions targeted 11 companies or individuals from China, North Korea or the United Arab Emirates for transferring technology to Iran that it claimed could boost the country’s ballistic missile program.

Here is the list of the sanctioned US corporations:

Beni Tal security company has collaborated with the Israeli military in the suppression of Palestinian people.

United Technologies has sold Black Hawk military helicopters to the Israeli regime which have been used to bomb occupied territories and Palestinian refugee camps.

Raytheon has supplied Israel with technologically advanced military weapons that have been used against Palestinian people during the Gaza war.

ITT Corporation has provided the Israeli military with equipment it has used to stage nightly raids in Palestinian villages and refugee camps.

Re/Max has been involved in illegal real estate transactions in Israeli settlements across occupied Palestinian territories.

Oshkosh Corporation has been supplying the Israeli military with parts for armored vehicles used to restrain the Palestinian population.

Magnum Research Inc. has collaborated with Israeli military industries in the manufacturing of firearms and military equipment.

Kahr Arms has provided spare parts and developed light weapons used by the Israeli army in cooperation with the regime’s military industry.

M7 Aerospace LP, purchased by US subsidiary of the Israeli military contractor Elbit Systems, has been active in the production and development of Israeli radar and missile systems.

Military Armament Corporation has provided services and equipment linked to the weapons used by Israeli police.

Lewis Machine and Tool Company has provided weapons spare parts and services to the Israeli military’s arms industry.

Daniel Defense has provided the Israeli military’s arms industry with spare parts and services for weapons manufacturing.

Bushmaster Firearms International has provided the Israeli military’s arms industry with spare parts and services for weapons manufacturing.

O.F. Mossberg & Sons has supplied Israel with weapons, which are used by the regime’s military and police forces in the crackdown on Palestinian civilians.

H-S Precision, Inc. has provided the Israeli regime with weapons manufacturing technology.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry stated that the list could expand to include more entities.

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Israeli Companies Accrued $1 Billion From F-35 Deals

Sputnik – 15.02.2017

Israeli defense contractors have generated more than $1 billion in revenues since 2010 for assisting with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the most expensive weapons program in history.

The Israeli Defense Ministry reported Sunday that 2016 was a banner year for F-35 partners. Contracts tied to production of the F-35 shot up 33 percent last year for a total of $258 million in new deals for Israeli companies. Since Israel inked a deal to buy 19 F-35 fighters in 2010, Israeli firms have won more than $1 billion in ‘buy-back contracts.’

“The scope of industrial cooperation between [Lockheed Martin] and Israeli industry, in just the last year, shows the immense potential inherent in this arrangement for the Israeli economy,” Col. Avi Dadon, deputy director of purchasing at the Ministry of Defense, noted.

A bulk of the new revenues stemmed from the F-35 virtual reality helmets. Elbit Systems and Rockwell Collins scored a $206 million contract for headgear production.

Like the F-35 project as a whole, the F-35 helmets have faced their share of struggles. The 4.5-pound helmets are reported to cause neck problems for pilots. What’s more, the visor has been seen to pop off the heads of pilots during take-off. Since the helmets are critical for pilots to visualize flight, mission, and target information, this essentially leaves pilots blind. In a separate incident, Tom Briggs of the US Navy described the helmets as being comparable to “looking through a dirty window” due to a green glow in the display area.

Meanwhile, Italian officials have complained recently that Lockheed Martin and the US are not following through on jet maintenance contracts. Guido Crosetto, head of Italy’s aerospace and defense industry association said Washington has not “honored promises” made when Italy joined the list of US allies to buy the F-35s.

Back in 2002, Italy was told that it would receive contracts for maintenance work worth 65 percent of the $1 billion Rome invested to buy 90 joint strike fighters, Italian media outlets reported. Italian firms currently have contracts valued less than 20 percent of its initial investment, the official added. Instead, contracts went to places like the UK, the Netherlands and Australia “because the competition favored large companies,” Crosetto said.

February 15, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel to deploy machine gun-equipped autonomous vehicles along Gaza border

MEMO | September 2, 2016

Israel is set to use fully autonomous unmanned vehicles along the border with the Gaza Strip, according to a  report published by FoxNews.com.

While currently unarmed, the Israeli military plans to add machine guns to the so-called Border Protector Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) by “the beginning of next year”.

An unnamed Israeli military official told the website: “This is the future – the border is a very dangerous place… Sending unmanned vehicles to do these patrols means that troops’ lives are not at risk.”

According to the report, the Israeli army has worked with defence giant Elbit Systems to convert Ford pick-up trucks into UGVs by adding “specialised remote driving technology”, along with “four driving cameras and a 360-degree observation camera.”

UGV testing reportedly began in July 2015 and the trucks “became operational in February [2016].”

While each vehicle is currently “driven by an operator in a remote control room using a steering wheel, joystick and pedals”, an army official told FoxNews.com that “in the future, we will have the capability of fully autonomous driving.” The machine gun “will be operated from a control room.”

September 2, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘UK firm helps Israel kill Palestinians’

Protesters slam UK firm over profiting from Israeli war crimes

Press TV – April 9, 2016

Scores of pro-Palestinian activists in the UK have demonstrated outside the headquarters of an arms manufacturing company, accusing it of benefiting from Israel’s deadly crackdown against Palestinians.

The protesters gathered in front of the UK headquarters of aerospace manufacturer Thales, in Crawley, on Friday and expressed their anger against the company’s partnership with Israel’s Elbit Systems to develop a surveillance drone, nicknamed Watchkeeper, used by the regime against Palestinians.

The rally was held by the Sussex Stop Arming Israel campaign and was supported by other human rights groups, including the Inminds. The main messages of the protest were “Stop Arming Israel” and “Thales profits from Israeli war crimes.”

“Thales UK has a billion pound contract with Israel’s largest arms company Elbit Systems to develop a fleet of drones. Human Rights Watch has documented [the drones] as being used by Israel to deliberately target Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” said Inminds chair Abbas Ali.

“It’s sickening that Elbit markets this killer drone as being extensively ‘field tested’ in ‘real life’ situations — using the slaughter of Gaza’s people as a marketing ploy to gain a competitive advantage,” he added.

The Watchkeeper drone, which is produced through a joint venture dubbed UAV Tactical Systems, is modeled on Elbit’s Hermes 450, a UAV that has been used in action by the Israeli military. According to the Sussex group, the drone is developed under a contract awarded by the UK’s Ministry of Defense.

Thales UK is a subsidiary of the French company Thales, and is currently considered as the UK’s second largest military company.

Tel Aviv is under fire by rights groups for its indiscriminate attacks against Palestinian civilians. In one instance of Israel’s brutality, at least 2,140 Palestinians, including 557 children, lost their lives during the regime’s offensive against the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014.

The aggression also left 11,100 Palestinians wounded, including 3,374 children and 2,088 women, and displaced over 170,000 others.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US & Israeli arms companies bag £500m UK military contract

RT | February 2, 2016

Israeli arms company Elbit Systems and US military contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) have won a £500-million contract to provide aircraft training for the UK military.

The Affinity venture, in which the two are partners, will provide fixed wing training for sections of the UK Armed Forces concerned with aviation.

Affinity’s component is part of a larger deal led by Ascent Flight training and worth £1.1 billion. Ascent is itself a fifty-fifty venture between international arms firms Babcock and Lockheed Martin.

The aim is to deliver flight training up to the year 2033 in line with the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS).

In a statement, Ascent’s director Paul Livingston said: “The award of these contracts marks a key milestone for the fixed wing element of UKMFTS. Modern training aircraft selected specifically to meet the bespoke needs of the UK’s Armed Forces will deliver optimized training alongside high tech simulators and classroom trainers.”

Ministry of Defence (MoD) Procurement Minister Phillip Dunne said the deal was “fantastic news for the future of our military aircrew” and would provide them with “a modern training system which will equip them to deliver on the front line.”

Elbit Systems are well known for their range of drones and the firm is of particular concern among human rights groups.

According to a report by the charity War on Want, the MoD awarded a £1-billion contract to Elbit and its UK partner Thales to develop the Watchkeeper drone. The model is now in service with the military.

The charity argues that Watchkeepers are field tested in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

“Israeli companies such as Elbit will often boast of their competitive advantage in the global arms market due to their extensive ‘testing’ of their weaponry in ‘real life’ situations,” the report says.

February 2, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

High Court lifts ban on protests at Israeli drone factory

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A UK arms factory was recently occupied by nine British activists in protest against the company’s alleged complicity in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge
RT | October 30, 2015

An injunction banning protests from taking place outside a drone factory in Staffordshire has been thrown out by Birmingham High Court. The factory has produced parts for drones used to attack Gaza in 2008, according to Amnesty International.

UAV Engines Limited in Shenstone, owned by an Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, is one of the world’s leading drone producers. The company says it produces “engines for various size tactical armed unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs], target drones and single mission platforms.”

Angered by the factory’s unethical behavior, hundreds of protesters have staged demonstrations outside its industrial unit, calling on the manufacturer to stop contributing to the death of Palestinians.

In June, campaigners shut down UAV and another Israeli arms factory in Kent as part of a protest marking the one-year anniversary of the Israeli assault on Gaza.

Soon after, it became illegal for activists to protest within 250 meters of the Shenstone factory. The ban came in the form of a temporary injunction granted by the High Court.

However, Birmingham High Court scrapped the ban on Tuesday, ruling Elbit had failed to disclose information on the history of protests which have taken place at the factory since 2009.

Judge Purle at the High Court said the injunction is dismissed “as if it never existed.”

“I think it inconceivable you would have got the same injunction, possibly even any injunction, if you had disclosed relevant information to me,” she told the court. “Accordingly the injunction I granted on 30 June is dismissed ab initio [from the beginning] and it is as if the injunction never existed.”

‘It shouldn’t have been introduced’

A spokesperson for campaign group Block the Factory said the injunction should not have been imposed in the first place.

“This injunction should never have been imposed.It seems to have been designed to deter protest and campaigning around ending the UK’s deadly arms trade with Israel,” they told IBT.

“It’s Elbit Systems and its arms factories that should be facing a ban, not our protests. Today’s decision will bring even more energy to our campaigning in solidarity with ongoing Palestinian resistance and for a two-way arms embargo on Israel.”

War on Want, a charity fighting against the root causes of poverty and human rights violations, said it is pleased the ban has been lifted.

“It would have been a travesty for people to be criminalized for protesting against the sale of arms that are killing Palestinians. It just goes to show the depths UAV Engines will stoop to in order to protect the profits they make from the sale of deadly drones,” campaigner Ryvka Barnard said.

“We welcome the news that the judge has binned this draconian injunction and we will keep up the fight for an immediate two-way arms embargo between the UK and Israel,” he added.

In July, hundreds of activists protested outside the factory, which led to 19 people being arrested by Staffordshire police.

Photo © londonpalestineaction.tumblr.com / Tumblr

October 30, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Charges against Israeli war crimes protesters dropped

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MEMO | February 2, 2015

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has dropped charges against nine activists who occupied the roof of an Elbit Systems factory in Staffordshire during Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip last year.

The collapse of the case came as the defence company “refused to hand over evidence about its exports of weaponry to Israel.”

The protesters from London Palestine Action had been facing charges of aggravated trespass after shutting down UAV Engines Ltd. (UEL), an Elbit subsidiary, for two days 5-6 August 2014.

But charges were dropped by the CPS “just hours before a deadline expired to provide the defendants with details of arms export licences granted to UEL to send its hi-tech engines to Israel for use in the Hermes 450 – a drone widely deployed by the Israeli military.”

According to a report in The Independent, two witnesses from the company declared that they were “no longer prepared to give evidence, and that documentation – understood to be the arms export data – would not be forthcoming.”

A statement from London Palestine Action accused the UK government and Elbit Systems of “running scared from a court case that would have put their collusion with Israeli war crimes on trial.”

The statement added: “The activists pleaded not guilty to charges of ‘preventing lawful activity’ on the basis that the operations at the Staffordshire factory were aiding and abetting war crimes and therefore illegal.”

Lawyers for the defendants say it appears the case collapsed either because the prosecution had been told either that Elbit Systems were unwilling to testify in court about their activities or because the UK government was unwilling to comply with the court’s order to disclose information it holds about licenses for arms exports to Israel, or both.

February 2, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

US hires Israeli company to retrofit Mexico border wall

By Chloé Benoist | Al-Akhbar | March 5, 2014

An Israeli military contractor, whose surveillance technology is used along Israel’s apartheid wall constructed in the Palestinian West Bank, has been chosen by the United States to provide similar services on the southern border with Mexico, Israeli media reported on Wednesday.

Elbit Systems announced on Sunday that the US Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had awarded its subsidiary a $145 million contract to deploy border surveillance technology in southern Arizona, Reuters reported.

But according to Bloomberg analyst Brian Friel, quoted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the one-year contract could expand to a broader $1 billion deal if the US Congress passes stringent immigration legislation.

Elbit Systems is set to install watch towers along the border with sensors for spotting, tracking, and classifying data, along with command and control centers.

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona hailed the deal as a “step in the right direction.”

“Arizonans have been waiting more than a decade for the Department of Homeland Security to place the needed technology along our border to support the Border Patrol and fully secure our southern border,” he said in a statement.

“If this technology is developed, integrated and fielded correctly, these Integrated Fixed Towers in southern Arizona, coupled with the tremendous work of the Border Patrol, will give our agents the ability to detect, evaluate, and respond to all illegal entries crossing our border.”

A government contractor said the choice of an Israeli firm was justified by of its “advanced” experience in maintaining separation barriers.

“It is odd to go offshore for this work, but in extraordinary circumstances, one really wants to employ the best,” Haaretz quoted Mark Amtower, a partner at Amtower & Co, as saying.

Elbit Systems is one of the primary military suppliers of the Israel’s occupation forces. Its Hermes 450 attack drone has been used extensively in the besieged Gaza Strip, as well as in Lebanon during the 2006 war.

The company is also responsible for surveillance technology along the apartheid wall erected by Israel within the West Bank. Only 15 percent of the separation barrier is built along the so-called 1949 Green Line, which is recognized by the international community as the border of Israel proper, UN figures show, with most of it jutting into the occupied West Bank.

The 440-kilometer long barrier is considered illegal under international law.

Among its many international contracts, Elbit contributed in 2013 to a $40 million expansive Internet surveillance program for the Nigerian government.

Elbit Systems has officially pledged on its website to “contribute to the enhancement of quality of life and the environment of the communities in which we live and work.”

But this contribution mainly consists of supporting Israeli occupation forces through the “Adopt a Combat Unit” program.

Elbit is targeted by the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for “directly contribut[ing] to violations of international humanitarian law.”

The Stop the Wall campaign has called Elbit a “symbol” which“thrives on and fuels war, repression and control in Palestine and around the globe.”

“Elbit offers its experience in ghettoizing and killing Palestinians to repress other people,” the campaign wrote of the company’s international projects.

“Because Elbit Systems is knowingly participating in and aiding Israeli war crimes and Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people, investors in and partners of the security firm are, by extension, accessories to Israel’s many violations of international law and human rights standards.”

March 5, 2014 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Luxembourg pension fund boycotts major Israeli banks

Ma’an | February 25, 2014

BETHLEHEM – Luxembourg’s general pension fund has decided to boycott five major Israeli banks and a number of major Israeli investment companies over their involvement in supporting construction in illegal settlements in the West Bank, according to the Hebrew-language news site Walla.

In a report published Tuesday, Walla news highlighted that names of the Israeli banks and companies appeared on a list banned by the Fond De Compensation last updated on Nov. 15, 2013. The list, titled on the FDC website as “Exclusion List,” included 60 international banks and companies which FDC decided to boycott over human rights violations.

The Israeli banks and companies on the list are the Africa Israel Investment group identified by FDC as Real Estate, Management and Development group, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Elbit Systems, aerospace and defense group, Finmeccaneca, also aerospace and defense group, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank, Jerusalem Economy LTD, the Real Estate, Management and Development Group and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank LTD.

It was explained on the list that the Israeli banks and organizations appeared because they support and finance construction of “illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Territories of the State of Palestine” and some provide security systems for the “illegal separation barrier on Occupied Territories of the State of Palestine.”

The Walla report highlighted that the direct impact of this boycott could be zero, but it is still worrying because it is a chain in an ongoing divestment process.

February 25, 2014 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 1 Comment