Demonstrators close down banks in ‘Day of Action’
More than 30 people descended down on Barclays bank in Leeds last weekend as a day of action was seen across the country as part of the United Nation’s International Day of Solidarity with Palestine.
Members of the Leeds-based group, Leeds Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) staged a demonstration outside the bank on Albion Street, in protest against Barclay’s investments in Israel.
More than 1.7million people have signed an Avaaz petition calling on the bank to divest its £1.9million holding in Elbit Systems, the Israeli arms company that supplies drones that the Israeli military has been documented to have used in the killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
Demonstrators handed out informative leaflets and spoke with the public about their actions which forced the bank to close for an-hour-and-a-half.
Debbie Locke of Leeds BDS, said: “We have shut down Barclays to show that we will not allow the atrocities Israel commits against the Palestinian people to be funded from here in the UK.
“Barclays' own investments in Elbit Systems, an arms manufacturer which creates drones that helped kill over 2,000 people in Gaza this year.
“They were one of the chief supporters of South African apartheid until the global anti-apartheid movement took them to task and now they want to support Israeli apartheid but the Palestine solidarity movement is taking action.”
Similar protests were also held across the country with action taking place in Manchester, Bradford, London, Brighton and more than ten other towns and cities.
The nationwide sit-ins and mass gatherings have helped mount further pressure on the UK government in calls to suspend licenses for the exports of arms to Israel.
Last week, the government announced a second review of licenses for arms exports to Israel after it discovered 12 instances in which weapons containing components produced in the UK may have been used in the Summer 2014 attacks on Gaza.
“The government have announced a new review into arms sales to Israel,but Vince Cable's own review earlier this summer already found arms licences for equipment likely to have been used against the people of Gaza,” said Kat Hobbs from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade.
“This new review will only be worthwhile if it means a real and fundamental change from business as usual.”
Campaigners have previously dismissed attempts by Barclays to defend its investment in Elbit by arguing that it only holds shares on behalf of customers and for the purposes of hedging