Bank branches forced to close as protesters hold die-in
by Felicity Collier
PALESTINE solidarity activists highlighted how the HSBC bank profits from Israel’s “armed violence and repression” by protesting at 20 branches at the weekend, forcing some to close their doors.
Branches in London and Brighton were shut for several hours on Saturday, with activists in Brighton holding a die-in occupation, while the Oxford Street branch was picketed.
Other protests were staged in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Durham, Oxford, the London borough of Tower Hamlets and elsewhere, as part of a week-long nationwide Stop Arming Israel campaign.
Research carried out by the War on Want charity has revealed that HSBC owns shares in military and technology companies, including BAE Systems and Boeing, that sell weapons and equipment to Israel.
The actions, by activists of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, were timed to mark the third anniversary of Israel’s military onslaught on the Gaza Strip in 2014, which killed over 2,300 Palestinians, including 550 kids.
The United Nations and human rights organisations have accused Israel of committing war crimes during that campaign.
Since 2012, HSBC has been involved in syndicates with other banks that have provided loans to arms companies supplying weapons to Israel worth around £19.3 billion.
The bank was also involved in providing loans to Caterpillar, whose bulldozers are used to demolish Palestinian homes.
BDS campaigners said HSBC policy appears to state that the bank should not give financial support to the arms trade.
Riya Hassan of the Palestinian BDS national committee said: “By investing in and providing loans to the arms companies that help Israel to oppress Palestinians, HSBC is lending its support to Israel’s violations of international law.
“HSBC is profiting from the armed violence and repression that lies at the heart of Israel’s system of oppression over the Palestinian people.”
War on Want is due to publish its findings on high street banks investing in the arms industry this week.
The anti-poverty charity’s senior militarism and security campaigner Ryvka Barnardsaid: “HSBC holds shares in, and arranges loans to, a number of companies that sell weapons and military technology to Israel, used in the abuse of Palestinians’ human rights, including war crimes.
“If HSBC is serious about a commitment to human rights, its first step must be to immediately end its business relationship with companies that sell weapons to Israel.”