Shareholder activists target Barclays AGM

20150423_110056On Thursday 23 April 2015, several protests were held outside the gates of the Barclays Annual General Meeting at the Royal Festival Hall.

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Imprisoned voices: Corporate complicity in the Israeli prison system

Imprisoned VoicesClick here to download briefing

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This briefing is being published on 17 April 2015 to coincide with the annual day of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.

It collects the memories of the pain, suffering and resilience of Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel.

In 2013, Corporate Watch visited the West Bank and Gaza Strip and interviewed released prisoners about their experiences. The 11 accounts give a glimpse of the struggles of Palestinian prisoners.

They have been collected together here to inspire readers to take action in solidarity with them and against the companies profiting from their suffering.

The first part of this briefing compiles interviews with prisoners from the Gaza Strip. The second part focuses on the West Bank. The final part summarises the companies providing equipment and services that aid the arrest and imprisonment of Palestinians and gives detailed profiles of two of the biggest culprits: G4S and Hewlett Packard.

We dedicate this briefing to all those who remain imprisoned, and to everyone living within the open air prison that is occupied Palestine.

The briefing is currently only published online. It will be available to buy in the coming weeks from www.corporatewatch.org

The story of a released Palestinian prisoner, banned from returning home

Israeli soldiers prepare to tear gas Palestinian protesters outside Ofer prison in the West Bank

Israeli soldiers prepare to tear gas Palestinian protesters outside Ofer prison in the West Bank (2013)

This interview is part of a series of articles about Palestinian prisoners and companies complicit with the Israeli prison system. 17 April 2015 is the annual global day of action for Palestinian prisoners, when solidarity activists around the world are called on to take action to highlight the abuse of Palestinian political prisoners in the Israeli prison system. Both G4S and Hewlett Packard provide services to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS). Palestinian prisoners’ organisations have called on the global solidarity movement to pressure them to end their contracts. International companies such as Samsung, Canon, and Motorola have also provided equipment used in Israeli prisons Continue reading

Born in an Israeli prison

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Palestinian women and their children join the weekly sit-in in solidarity with Palestinian detainees in israeli jails – Gaza City

This interview is part of a series of articles about Palestinian prisoners and companies complicit with the Israeli prison system. 17 April 2015 is the annual global day of action for Palestinian prisoners, when solidarity activists around the world are called on to take action to highlight the abuse of political prisoners in the Israeli prison system. Both G4S and Hewlett Packard provide services to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS). Palestinian prisoners’ organisations have called on the global solidarity movement to pressure them to end their contracts.

We visited Fatima Al Zak in her home in Shuja’iyeh, a neighbourhood in Eastern Gaza City, in November 2013 to hear about her experience of giving birth and trying to bring up an infant in an Israeli prison. Fatima is one of many Palestinian prisoners who have been denied proper medical care while in prison. Continue reading

UK Supreme Court rules in favour of mass surveillance of protestors

Last Wednesday a landmark protest case was lost when Metropolitan Police won its appeal against John Catt, a 90 year old anti-war campaigner from Brighton who has fought a long battle to have his details removed from the national ‘domestic extremist’ database’ (also referred to as the National Special Branch Intelligence System). The Met was appealing against a court of appeal judgement from 2013, which stated that the police had no right to retain Catt’s details on the database as this constitutes a breach of his rights to private life and that the records should be destroyed.

Bound to have wide reaching consequences, the new supreme court ruling gives the police the go ahead to continue surveillance of protestors more or less unchecked. As the Network for Police Monitoring put it in its statement about the outcome: ‘The significance of today’s ruling is that it changes the basis on which retention of data must be justified, from the individual to the general’. Or in other words, anyone who attends a public demonstration or protest can expect to be put on a database as long as the police considers it to be useful for wider, mainly undefined, data gathering purposes.

John Catt has indicated his intention to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

For detailed analysis and back ground to this case see Corporate Watch’s article Will the Supreme Court give police the ‘right’ to mass surveillance? and reports from the Network for Police Monitoring, including its statement regarding the recent verdict: Analysis of the UK Supreme Court ruling on surveillance of political activism

The full Supreme Court ruling can be read here: https://www.supremecourt.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2013_0112_Judgment.pdf

Statement from the anti-militarist campaign Smash EDO, quoted in the ruling: Smash EDO response to supreme court ruling on surveillance

New Briefing – Gaza: Life beneath the drones

drones gazaClick here to download

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Unpiloted aircraft, known as drones, have become Israel’s weapon of choice in its attacks on Gaza. In 2012 drones killed more people in Gaza than any other aircraft. In Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ attack, 37% of those killed died in drone attacks.

In 2013 Corporate Watch visited Gaza for two months to interview the survivors of drone attacks and human rights workers about the effect of living beneath the drones. The interviews tell the story of the survivors and highlights their calls for support from the global solidarity movement.

This briefing compiles the interviews and gives short profiles of some of the companies profiting from Israel’s drone wars: Elbit and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

We hope that reading this briefing will inspire you to take action in solidarity with people living under siege in Gaza. As one survivor of a drone strike told us: “We do not need just words”.

Israel Aerospace Industries: a company profile

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Israel Aerospace Industries is one of Israel’s biggest arms companies. Founded in 1953 as Bedek, IAI has long been at the forefront of Israel’s arms production and export. It also develops systems for commercial aircraft. In 2013, 73% of IAI’s sales revenues came from exports.

IAI and Israel’s drone wars

IAI was one of the earliest developers of drone technology and launched its first surveillance drone, the IAI Scout, in 1979. Since then the company has launched a number of drone models (see below). Drone development is handled by IAIs MALAT divisions. IAI describes its unmanned aerial systems as ‘combat proven’ and writes on its website of its drones’ “unsurpassed track record of over 1,200,000 operational flight hours for over 50 users on five continents”. According to Drone Wars UK, IAI has exported their UAVs, sometimes through joint venture agreements, to various European countries as well as South America, Australia, Canada and India and the company has a growing market in Africa.

IAI and Gaza

Most of IAI’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) are surveillance drones, but the Heron 1 and Heron TP both have strike capabilities and have been used in Gaza. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW),i the Heron can fly up to 40 hours and can carry four Spike missiles. It is also used for surveillance and to identify targets on the ground.

Drone Wars UKii reports that Israel was deploying armed Heron 1 drones during the Operation Summer Rains attack in Gaza in 2006.

The IAI Heron TP is Israel’s biggest drone, with a wing span of 26 metres. It was first used during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza during 2008-2009.iii When the Heron TP is marketed as ‘combat proven’ it means that it has been tried out on the people of Gaza with fatal consequences.

Attacks on Lebanon:

IAI’s Searcher and Scout drones were both used for surveillance in Israel’s attacks on Lebanon in the 1990s and early 2000s. It is believed that armed Heron drones were used in the assault on Lebanon in 2006iv

IAI and the US:v

During the first Gulf War, IAI Pioneer drones were used by the US navy to guide shells fired from battleships.

Industry:

A ‘defence’ company which develops and produces a variety of products for both military and commercial markets in Israel and around the world, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), fighter jets and naval and ground defence systems. In 2013, military equipment accounted for 73% of the company’s sales, with only 27% going to commercial markets.vi

Traded on: TASE

Revenues/Assets/Sales: In 2013 the company reported an operating income of $84 million, the company recorded total assets of over $5 billion and net sales of over $3.5 billion – to view the company accounts click here.

Employees: 16,000

Subsidiaries:

ELTA Systems Ltd (Israel)

ELTA North America (based in Maryland, US)

European Advanced Technology (EAT)

Addresses:

Website: www.iai.co.il

Head quarters: Ben Gurion International Airport, 70100, Israel. Phone: 00972-3-9353111 Email: corpmkg@iai.co.il

Representatives: The company has representatives around the world, including in Asia, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Korea, North America and Russia.

Ownership: IAI is fully owned by the Israeli state. It is the largest state owned defence and aerospace company in Israel.

Drones manufactured by IAIvii

IAI Scout, Bird Eye 400, Mini Panther, Mosquito 1, Mosquito 1.5, Panther, Harpy, Searcher I, I-View-150, Searcher II, Searcher III, B-Hunter, Heron 1 (Shoval), Heron TP (Eitan).

Countries IAI has exported to:viii

Angola, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United States, UK.

Resistance:

In 2011 a Palestinian civil society call demanded a two way embargo on arms sales to and from the Israeli state and Israeli companies.

In October 2014, activists from London Palestine Action occupied the London offices of Airbus over its involvement with IAI. The two companies are working together on the Harfang drone for the French Air Force. The Harfang drone is based on the IAI Heron.

Background

The battlefields of Israel’s militarism and occupation have proved effective testing grounds for new types of weaponry. Israel’s constant state of warfare has ensured a reliable marketplace for Israeli arms manufacturers. According to Drone Wars UK, surveillance drones were first used in Egypt in the lead up to the Yom Kippur War. The first recorded use of an Israeli drone to help piloted warplanes bomb targets (target acquisition) was in 1982 in the run up to the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon. According to the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, the first recorded use of an armed drone by Israel was in 2004. The experience gleaned during years of military repression has made Israel the largest exporter of drone technology in the world. Israeli arms companies have sold drones to over 50 countries.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW): “the missile fired from a drone has its own cameras that allow the operator to observe the target from the moment of firing. The optics on both the drone and missiles include imaging infrared cameras that allow operators to see individuals at night as well as during the day. With these visual capabilities, drone operators should have been able to tell the difference between fighters and others directly participating in hostilities, who are legitimate targets, and civilians, who are immune from attack, and to hold fire if that determination could not be made. If a last-second doubt arises about a target, the drone operator can use the missile’s remote guidance system to divert the fired missile, steering the missile away from the target with a joystick.”

Despite this, the number of deaths (as a proportion of total deaths) caused by drone strikes has been increasing. During our 2013 visit to Gaza, Corporate Watch interviewed several survivors of Israeli drone attacks who had not involved in any fighting before they were targeted, many of those killed by drone attacks are children. The Gaza based Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights provided Corporate Watch with these shocking figures for the years 2000-2012:

Year

Total recorded number of people killed by Israeli attacks in Gaza

Number of people killed by Israeli drones in Gaza (% of total)

2000

123

0 (0%)

2001

243

0 (0%)

2002

472

0 (0%)

2003

398

0 (0%)

2004

646

2 (0.3%)

2005

99

0 (0%)

2006

534

91 (17%)

2007

281

98 (34.9%)

2008

769

172 (22.4%)

2009

1058

461 (43.6%)

2010

72

19 (26.4%)

2011

112

58 (51.8%)

2012

255

201 (78.8%)

 

Israeli drone strikes are carried out from the Palmachin and Tel Nof air force bases.xxii
Endnotes:

i Human Rights Watch (2009), Section 4

iiDrone Wars UK (2014), page 10

iiiT. Goldenburg, Huffington Post, Israel Unveils New Drone Fleet that can reach Iran (2010)

ivDrone Wars UK (2014), page 10

vDrone Wars UK (2014), page 7

viIAI – http://www.iai.co.il/Shared/UserControls/Print/PopUp.aspx?lang=en&docid=45888

viiDrone Wars UK (2014), page 7

viiiDrone Wars UK (2014), page 19

Elbit: new company profile

elbit

Elbit Systems, based in Haifa, is Israel’s largest publicly traded arms and security company. Elbit is growing fast. It has absorbed dozens of companies since 2000 and now employs well over 11,500 people as well a presiding over a considerable global network of subsidiaries and affiliated corporations.

Elbit is a company with international reach, in fact 75% of its market is outside Israel. The company has military contracts with governments in the US, UK and Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.

85% of drones used by the Israeli military are manufactured by Elbit. Elbit’s armed drones are used by the Israeli army in daily surveillance and attacks in Gaza, according to Defense News. In effect, Elbit markets its equipment on the fact that it has been battle tested on the bodies of people in Gaza. For example, the Elbit website advertises that the Hermes 450 drone is the “backbone of Israel’s UAS fleet” and is combat proven.

To read the full profile click here.

Honeyell components used to bomb Gaza last Summer

Components manufactured by US firm Honeywell were used to bomb a Palestinian home during the Israeli attack on Gaza last Summer.

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Photos taken by International Solidarity Movement activist Charlie Andreasson in Shujaiya on 9th August 2014, show damage to a Palestinian home close to where the components were found. One picture shows a component marked Honeywell, giving a postcode in Iowa. The damage can only have been caused by an aerial dropped bomb. The components were probably for a laser guided bomb system.

The Gaza City neighbourhood of Shujaiya was devastated by the bombing last Summer which claimed the lives of 2,191 Palestinians.

Honeywell is a US Based international corporation that produces products fo the arms, manufacturing, civil aviation and construction industries. It also produces thermostats for home use. The Palestinian call for boycott divestment and sanctions calls for people to boycott consumer products from companies supplying weaponry to the Israeli military, in solidarity with people in Gaza.

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Will the Supreme Court give police the ‘right’ to mass surveillance?

john-catt_2509902bThe Metropolitan Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), with the backing of the Secretary of State, have been fighting a case in the Supreme Court, defending their ‘right’ to store data on protesters. They are appealing against a 2013 judgement, which said that they were obliged to destroy data about an anti-war protester called John Catt. The ruling has implications for the police’s right to store data on everyone. The court has now heard legal arguments and a judgement is expected soon. Continue reading