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PRESSURE mounted on Barclays to sever its ties with Israeli arms firms today, as growing numbers of customers joined calls to boycott the bank.
More than 1,500 people closed their accounts in protest against the bank’s “bankrolling of Israel’s genocidal attack on Palestinians,” on a boycott day spearheaded by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).
According to PSC, Barclays has invested over £1 billion in companies supplying weapons and military technology to Israel and provides nine firms with over £3bn in loans and underwriting.
The companies include General Dynamics, which produces the gun systems that arm fighter jets used by Israel to bombard Gaza, and Elbit Systems, which produces armoured drones, munitions and artillery weapons used by the Israeli military.
The bank previously faced a similar boycott campaign over its financial support for South African apartheid. It was eventually forced to divest in 1986.
PSC director Ben Jamal said: “Nobody with a conscience would bank with Barclays in the 1970s and ’80s when we fought to stop it supporting the brutal, racist system of South African apartheid.
“Nobody with a conscience could now bank with Barclays knowing it helps facilitate Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza.
“That’s why more than 1,500 people are closing their Barclays accounts en masse today, in a clear message that there can be no business as usual during a genocide.”
“We forced Barclays to stop supporting apartheid before, and we’ll force it to stop supporting genocide and apartheid now.”
The campaign follows mounting pressure on the bank and other financial institutions from campaign groups across Britain.
On Wednesday, a coalition of protesters from London for a Free Palestine, the Palestinian Youth Movement, Queers for Palestine and Black Lives Matter rallied in front of Barclays’ London headquarters calling for a boycott.
After staging a wave of protests against the bank, including last weekend, Manchester Palestine Action blockaded the Manchester offices of the Bank of New York Mellon today.
Joined by Greater Manchester Friends of Palestine and the Youth Front for Palestine, the activists protested BNY Mellon’s investments in Israel’s largest arms firm Elbit Systems, which amount to over £10 million.
“The grassroots pressure mounting on major financial institutions who invest in arms companies profiting from Israel's barbaric genocide in Gaza is now immense, reflective of the huge numbers taking action for Palestine around the world,” said Adie Mormech, an activist for Manchester Palestine Action.
“It’s despicable the Western world has watched Israel’s mass slaughter in Gaza continue, but it’s even worse when banks like Barclays are investing so much of people’s money in the companies that thrive on Israel's murder of at least 27,000 Palestinians in four months, including over 12,000 children.
“We must carry on taking action and make sure there’s a price to pay for any company investing in the weapons used that are causing the rivers of blood running through Gaza right now.”
On Saturday, thousands of protesters will gather in their local actions as part of weekly demonstrations to demand an immediate and permanent ceasefire, called for by PSC, Muslim Association of Britain, CND, Stop the War and Friends of al-Aqsa.
Rallies will be held across Britain and outside Barclays branches in Camden, Kensington and Ealing in London, as well as Reading, Bristol and Birmingham.
A Stop the War spokesperson urged for mass mobilisation to demand that the British government “ends its complicity in Israel’s genocidal assault on Palestinians, including by adopting an immediate two-way arms embargo.”
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