By Gokhan Kurtaran
LONDON (AA) – Campaigners in Britain are protesting HSBC bank's alleged links to Israeli human rights abuses, according to an anti-poverty charity based in London.
Over 18,000 people around the U.K. have contacted HSBC Group CEO John Flint voicing their concerns on this issue, and HSBC branches in over 20 locations across the U.K. have been the focus of regular protests and pickets, according to a press release by the War on Want group on Tuesday.
HSBC is a major shareholder in companies which supply weapons and military equipment to Israel, which uses extensive and often lethal military force against Palestinians, the anti-poverty charity said.
“British high street bank HSBC profits from Israel’s military violence against Palestinians through investments and loans to companies which supply military equipment to Israel. Israel’s security forces use such weapons 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,” it added.
“HSBC holds millions of pounds worth of shares in companies like BAE Systems, Boeing, and Elbit Systems, whose weapons are used in Israeli military attacks on Palestinian civilians,” said Ryvka Barnard, the group’s senior campaigner on militarism and security.
“HSBC claims it has a commitment to upholding human rights. If this commitment is sincere, it must end its complicity in the arms trade with Israel. In recent weeks, the world has witnessed just how shamelessly Israel uses lethal force against Palestinian civilians. We join concerned citizens across the U.K. in telling HSBC to live up to its responsibilities and stop making a killing from Israel’s daily and systematic violence against Palestinians,” said Ben Jamal, who heads War on Want’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
On Friday, protesters outside the Queen Elizabeth II Centre will be telling shareholders at HSBC’s annual general meeting to "Stop Arming Israel," said the group.