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HSBC faces protests over links to Israel human rights abuse

HSBC Bank [File photo]
HSBC Bank [File photo]

Campaigners are protesting what they claim are HSBC’s links to Israeli human rights abuses, with more than 18,000 people contacting the group’s chief executive to express concern.

According to activists, the bank “profits from Israel’s military violence against Palestinians through investments and loans to companies which supply military equipment to Israel”.

Such weapons are used by Israeli forces “for brutal and illegal violence against Palestinians, including extrajudicial executions, attacks on unarmed protesters, house demolitions using armoured equipment, mass arrests and the military blockade and large-scale bombings on the Gaza Strip.”

In a press release issued yesterday, campaigners – including War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Defence for Children International-Palestine – said HSBC currently holds £831 million worth of shares in companies that sell weapons and military equipment to Israel.

READ: HSBC to close its branch in Palestine

In addition, HSBC “is involved in syndicated loans worth at least £19.3 billion to companies that sell weapons and military equipment to Israel.”

Ryvka Barnard, senior campaigner on Militarism and Security at War on Want, said that “as long as HSBC maintains business with companies arming Israel, its role in the oppression of Palestinians will continue to raise alarm and generate protest.”

Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “In recent weeks, the world has witnessed just how shamelessly Israel uses lethal force against Palestinian civilians.”

“We join concerned citizens across the UK in telling HSBC to live up to its responsibilities and stop making a killing from Israel’s daily and systematic violence against Palestinians,” he added.

READ: UK protest calls for stopping arms trade with Israel

Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability programme director at Defence for Children International -Palestine, noted how “the cost of systemic impunity is that wilful killing of civilians is now routine, putting Palestinian children at higher risk of death and critical injury.”

According to campaigners, more than 18,000 people around the UK have “contacted HSBC Group Chief Executive John Flint, expressing their concerns on this issue, and HSBC branches in over 20 locations across the UK have been the focus of regular protests and pickets.”

On Friday 20 April, meanwhile, protesters outside the Queen Elizabeth II Centre will be telling shareholders at HSBC’s annual general meeting to “Stop Arming Israel”.

Follow the campaign and the protest online with #StopArmingIsrael and #HSBComplicity

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