BDS victory: HSBC divest from Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit

BDS victory: HSBC divest from Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit
Activists have welcomed the announcement that HSBC has divested from Elbit systems.
3 min read
28 December, 2018
BDS is a non-violent movement [Getty]

British-based bank HSBC has confirmed that it has fully disengaged from Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems, in a move that is being seen as a victory for Boycott Divestment Sanctions activists.

"Over 24,000 people emailed HSBC with concern over its investments in Elbit Systems and other companies selling weapons to Israel’s military, and 40 HSBC branches across the UK were picketed monthly for the same reason,” UK-based Palestine Solidarity campaign said.

“Elbit Systems is one of Israel’s largest arms manufacturers, notorious for its deadly drones used in attacks on Palestinian civilians, and marketed abroad as ‘combat proven’. The company has also manufactured white phosphorous and artillery systems that can be used for cluster munitions.”

The statement added that Elbit has been sanctioned by other co-operations, not just for its actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, but in other parts of the world:

“Elbit Systems has been excluded from pension and investment funds around the world over the company’s involvement in supplying surveillance systems and other technology to Israel’s Separation Wall and settlements in the West Bank. Elbit has also supplied surveillance technology for use along the US-Mexico’s border.”

The move was celebrated by a number of activists. Ryvka Barnard, War on Want’s senior campaigner on militarism and security said:

“HSBC has taken a positive first step in divesting from Elbit Systems, the notorious manufacturer of drones, chemical weapons, cluster bomb artillery systems, and other technology used in attacks against Palestinian civilians, and to militarise walls and borders around the world. Doing business with companies like Elbit means profiting from violence and human rights violation, which is both immoral and a contravention of international law.”

“However, HSBC continues to do business with over a dozen companies selling military equipment and technology used in human rights violation, including Caterpillar, whose bulldozers are used in demolition of Palestinian homes and properties, and BAE Systems, whose weapons are used in war crimes by Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other repressive regimes”, he added.

The nonviolent BDS movement says it is inspired by the campaign that targeted South Africa's apartheid regime and is seeking an end to Israel's brutal occupation of the West Bank.

Israel sees BDS as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism – a claim activists firmly deny, calling it an attempt to discredit them.

But the movement, which adheres to peaceful resistance, aims to pressure Israel to comply with international law and human rights by lobbying various states, institutions and personas to understand its oppression of Palestinians and take action as a result.

BDS operates by pressuring corporations, artists and academic institutions to sever ties with Israel with supporters saying activities are aimed at promoting a Palestinian statehood.

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