Barclays 'substantially increased' financing of arms companies supplying Israel

Barclays 'substantially increased' financing of arms companies supplying Israel
A new report has found Barclays bank is financing and profiting from the production of weapons used in Israel’s war on Gaza.
4 min read
08 May, 2024
A new report shows Barclays bank has increased its financing of arms companies supplying Israel [Getty]

Barclays Bank has increased investments and the provision of financial services to arms companies supplying Israel with weapons and military technology, a joint investigation has found.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and War on Want found a significant increase in shareholdings in loans to nine companies known to be producing weapons used by Israel.

The report states the British high street bank now holds over £2 billion in shares and provides £6.1 billion in loans and underwriting to these arms companies.

It also claimed that the bank has £2.7 million of shares in the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems, which has doubled since previous research published in July 2022 shows.

The report states that since their previous research published in 2022, Barclays has increased the value of its shareholdings in the companies by over 55 percent, which includes the tripling of shareholding in Elbit Systems.

Barclays told The New Arab they are "not making any comment on the report specifically", instead referring to a Q and A page on their website published last week. 

The page states they recognise the "profound human suffering caused by this conflict" and clarifies their links to arms manufacturers supplying weapons used in Gaza.

"We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do. We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares," their website states.

"We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a 'shareholder' or 'investor' in that sense in relation to these companies," it adds.

They also state "it is not true that we have made a decision to invest in Elbit. We may hold shares in relation to client driven transactions, which is why we appear on the share register, but we are not investors".

Barclays also addressed claims over their links to Elbit, which campaign groups have said produce cluster bombs. 

"We would cease any relationship with any business where we saw evidence that it manufactures cluster bombs or components," Barclays said. 

Elbit Systems supplies Israel’s military with drones, munitions and artillery weapons which have been used in the military campaign on Gaza.

The report also linked Barclays to General Dynamics, a US arms firm that creates components for warplanes, as well as BAE systems and Raytheon.

It also highlighted an over 70 percent increase in the provision of loans and underwriting to Caterpillar, and a 98 percent increase in loans and underwriting to Raytheon.

Caterpillar supplies the Israeli military with D9 bulldozers, which have been used to raze Palestinian homes and villages, as well as weaponised in Gaza.

Raytheon produces 'bunker buster' bombs which are used to target Palestinian homes, as well as missiles for Israel's F-16 and F-35 fighter jets.

The report also highlighted Rolls-Royce’s production of military aircraft engines, naval engines and involvement in the US’ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme, which has exported fighter jets to Israel.

Barclays made no mention of these companies on their FAQ section.

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'Bankrolling a military offensive'

Ben Jamal, the director of PSC accused Barclays of "bankrolling" Israel’s ongoing military offensive on Gaza.

"It is shamefully profiting from and complicit in genocide. Rather than heeding voices of conscience, which includes thousands of former customers, it seeks to make more money from the misery, pain and death of Palestinians," he said in a statement.

Jamal also called on people to join a widespread boycott campaign of Barclays, and pledge to never bank there.

Emily Apple, media coordinator at CAAT, echoed Jamal’s comments, reiterating that everyone should close their accounts with the bank.

"Barclays’ sickening investment in death and destruction makes them complicit in the horrific war crimes Israel is committing in Gaza," she said.

The report comes as Israel has surpassed seven months of its war on Gaza, killing over 34,800 Palestinians and wounding at least 78,000 others.

The military assault has plunged Gaza into a humanitarian crisis, and devastated the enclave’s infrastructure, including destroying hospitals, schools, bakeries, aid convoys, shelters, and places of worship.