Author Archives: Therezia Cooper

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

UK subsidiary of Israeli drone manufacturer shut down in Gaza protest

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Occupation of the Elbit subsidiary UAV Engines by Palestine solidarity activists. Photo by London Palestine Action 5/8/2014

A UK subsidiary of the Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit was shut down for two days in a protest against the company’s complicity in the ongoing massacre in Gaza.

UAV Engines, based in Shenstone, Lichfield, produces drone engines and components which, according to government data acquired by by Campaign Against the Arms Trade, have been exported to Israel in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Amnesty International had previously uncovered evidence that engines from UAV Engines were incorporated into the Israeli Hermes 450 drones, which were used during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009.

Elbit is Israel’s biggest drone producer and one of the world’s largest exporters of drone technology. The company has been known to use the fact that its technology has been ‘combat proven” as a sales pitch, meaning that its weapons have shown their effectiveness when used to massacre Palestinians. According to the Electronic Intifada, Elbit’s US share price had risen by 6.1% by the end of July, three weeks into Israel’s latest onslaught ‘Protective Edge’. For Elbit, mass murder equals good business.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence is currently working with Elbit on the one billion pound Watchkeeper programme, a joint venture project between Elbit and Thales UK. The Watchkeeper is designed for use by the UK military and is closely modelled on Elbit’s Hermes 450. UAV Engines is one of the factories involved in its production. Continue reading

Tesco: the boycott that wasn’t

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The illegal settlement Beqa’ot in the occupied Jordan Valley. Photo by Corporate Watch, February 2013

Earlier this week, the Irish Sun published an article which claimed that Tesco’s Irish stores are to stop stocking fruit grown in Israeli settlements and that the chain’s UK stores will follow suit. In the article a Tesco spokesperson said that the chain currently has one kind of own brand dates which is “grown in Israel, but packed in the West Bank”, and that Tesco “plan to stop using that facility in September”. The news spread quickly amongst Palestine activists on the internet, with many congratulating Tesco’s decision boycott settlement produce. It seems, however, that the victory call was premature. In fact, there is no evidence that Tesco’s policy regarding trade with Israel has changed and campaigners should not become complacent.

Firstly, the changes do not refer to all produce but only to Tesco’s own brand, in this case one line of dates, and when Corporate Watch contacted Tesco for a clarification on practice its press office was less than forthcoming. After several attempts, we finally received a short reply from Alasdair Gee which stated “I’d like to point out that the Irish article is highly misleading. There has been no sourcing policy change. Any sourcing arrangements are purely for commercial reasons”. The statement failed to answer any of the questions we had posed, including whether Tesco will continue to source from the Israeli company Mehadrin, which operates in several settlements in the occupied Jordan Valley, as well as in the Golan. A follow up question regarding this has gone unanswered. As Corporate Watch has previously exposed, Mehadrin frequently mislabels produce from illegal settlements as Israeli. By continuing to trade with Mehadrin Tesco is complicit in aiding the settler economy. Continue reading

Join Corporate Occupation at the Earth First Summer Gathering

On Thursday the 8th of August 2013 we will be holding two workshops at the EARTH FIRST SUMMER GATHERING.

12 noon: Challenging Schedule 7: Come and learn more about how the police are using anti terrorism legislation as a snooping tool, and as an excuse to question activists under the threat of arrest.  The workshop will also be a space for everyone to discuss strategies to challenge this.

14.30pm Arad – Supplying water meters to Sussex while bleeding Palestine dry: Arad is an Israeli water company that provides services to Israeli settlements, and to the Israeli national water company that denies Palestinian communities access to water. The company has a contract with Southern Water to provide water meters to Sussex. Come and find out about the local campaign to stop the contract.

Open letter to Stewardship Services: Don’t facilitate funding for project in illegal Israeli settlement

Corporate Watch has sent the following letter to UK charity Stewardship Services to encourage it to end its support for Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, a charity which operates extensively in settlements in the West Bank. We need you to contact Stewardship Services too. If you want more information about CFOIC, read our previous articles about the organisation ‘Charity’ and Ethnic Cleansing: Christian Friends of Israeli Communities and British organisation ends relationship with charity supporting Israeli settlements

Stewardship Services can be contacted at:

Stewardship
PO Box 99
Loughton
Essex
IG10 3QJ

Email: enquiries@stewardship.org.uk

Tel: 020 8502 5600

Twitter: @stewardshipnews

Facebook: www.facebook.com/stewardship

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Christian Friends of Israeli Communities supported land grab close to the illegal settlement of Maskiot in the occupied Jordan Valley.

Dear Stewardship Services,

It has come to our attention that UK donations to the organisation Christian Friends of Israeli Communities Heartland are currently collected by Stewardship Services. We are writing to you to encourage you to end your links with this organisation because of its involvement with Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

As you will know, Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law and this is also the British Government’s position. Continued settlement expansion facilitates the rapid ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from certain areas if the Occupied Territories and is, in the words of the foreign office ‘an obstacle to peace’. Christian Friends of Israeli Communities is actively encouraging settlement expansion and funds numerous settlement projects. In fact, it does not recognise the West Bank, referring to the area only as ‘Judea and Samaria’. The charity has funded projects in, for example, the illegal settlements Maskiot, Argaman, Susiya, Na’ama and Kfar Adumim -all close to vulnerable Palestinian communities trying to survive under occupation.

In 2012 World Action Ministries, the organisation which was previously collecting CFOIC’s donations in the UK, confirmed to Corporate Watch that it had ceased its relationship with the charity after being notified of its operations on occupied territory as the knowledge “made [them] feel very uncomfortable bearing in mind the advice being given by the United Nations and other bodies at the time.”

Since WAM dropped CFOIC international bodies have issued even stronger guidelines about the funding of Israel’s settlements. Only two weeks ago the European Union published new rules which will bar Israeli organisations, groups and companies from receiving EU funding if they are based on Palestinian territory occupied by Israel.

Christian Friends of Israeli Communities strongly supports the settlement project and encourages settlement expansion. In a response to Corporate Watch CFOIC’s Sondra Oster Baras stated that “CFOIC Heartland has from its very inception publicly supported the communities and people of Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank]. CFOIC Heartland has never hidden the fact that funds go to communities beyond Israel’s 67 borders.”

World Action Ministries has realised that the tide is turning when it comes to Israel’s illegal settlements. It is time for Stewardship Services to be on the rights side of history – drop your relationship with Christian Friends of Israeli Communities Heartland.

Regards, Corporate Watch

UPDATE 16/08/2013 – Corporate Watch has received the following response from Stewardship:

“Dear Corporate Watch

Thank you for your open letter explaining your concerns on Christian Friends of Israeli Communities. We are aware that the region evokes complex political and theological views. We do not hold a position on political issues in this or any region. Our primary goal remains the Advancement of the Christian faith. Our charitable objectives also allow us to support the relief of poverty. Our agreement with CFIOC [sic] on use of funds is that they will be used solely in the provision of a hot lunch for children in Kochav Yaakov whose parents cannot afford to do so. We will continue to monitor the use of our funds to see that they are used for this purpose and meet the advice from regulators, such as the Charity Commission. As part of our on-going monitoring we are reviewing advice given by UK government and Charity regulators to charities working in the region.

Regards Frances Miles Head of Giving Services, Stewardship”

To read Corporate Watch’s further response click here

Occupation tourism: hiding the ugly truth

Vered Yeriho is a settlement  Moshav (a type of cooperative agricultural community) situated on a hilltop just West of Jericho in the occupied Jordan Valley. Established in 1979, it is part of the Megilot Regional Council and has a small settler population of under 150 people. Like most other settlements in the Jordan Valley, it relies on agriculture for economic activity. When Corporate Watch visited in January, we found one Agrexco branded and one other packing house operated by the settlement, and we have previously reported on interviews with Palestinian settlement workers working the Vered Yeriho fields.

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Jericho Inn guest house located in the settlement Vered Yeriho in the occupied Jordan Valley.

Continue reading

Kept in administrative detention for being a ‘man of influence’

Palestinians have called for international action on 17 April 2013 in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Corporate Watch has been investigating the companies involved in the Israeli prison system and this article is part of a series of articles and interviews which will be released over the coming weeks focusing on companies providing equipment and services to Israeli jails.

Continuing our series of personal testimonies from Palestinians imprisoned by Israel in the run-up to Palestinian prisoners’ day, this is the story of Tariq Abd al Kareem Fayyad Khaddar. Originally from Tulkarem, he now lives in Ramallah. He is a teacher at Bir Zeit University and a researcher in Israeli studies. He was first arrested in 2003, when he spent four years in prison, and again in 2011, when he spent two six month periods in administrative detention. Continue reading

“Are you Palestinian? Are you a little bit Palestinian? They yelled at me”: Experiencing detention in Israel

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CCTV watches over an Israeli police station in the Israeli occupied West Bank

Palestinians have called for international action on April 17th 2013 in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Corporate Watch has been investigating the companies involved in the Israeli prison system and this article is part of a series of articles and interviews which will be released over the coming weeks focussing on companies providing equipment and services to Israeli jails.

Tom Woodhead is a Palestine solidarity and anti arms trade activist and recently volunteered with the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine. On March 1st 2013, he was arrested by Israeli border police whilst participating in the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum in the West Bank. Two Palestinians, Belal Jomaa and Nayif Jomaa were also arrested. Tom spent 11 days in detention in Israel before being deported to the UK. Corporate Watch caught up with him to find out about his experiences, and to get more information about companies operating in Israeli detention facilities. Continue reading

Mehadrin: New evidence of mislabelled settlement produce

On February 9th a coalition of civil society groups have called for an international day of action against Israeli agricultural companies in line with the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli militarism, apartheid and colonisation. Corporate Watch researchers are in Palestine collecting new information and over the coming weeks Corporate Watch will be writing a series of articles and blogs examining Israeli agricultural exports.
Grape fields in the illegal Israeli settlement Beqa'ot in the occupied Jordan Valley
Grape fields in the illegal Israeli settlement Beqa’ot in the occupied Jordan Valley
Two and a half years ago Corporate Watch visited the illegal Israeli settlement Beqa’ot in the Jordan Valley, where we found packing houses belonging to the agricultural exporter Mehadrin Tnuport Export Company (MTEX). The produce being prepared for export was mislabeled as ‘produce of Israel’ despite being from the occupied West Bank. As we exposed at the time, Mehadrin produce is sold through Tesco stores in the UK. Last week we made another visit to the settlement to find out whether recent developments in UK and Israel has had an effect on the conduct of the company.

Who profits from the E1 settlement expansion? A profile of Kfar Adumim

This article is part of a series of Corporate Watch articles exposing corporate complicity in settlement expansion in the  wider E1 area. They will be followed by an in-depth factsheet in the coming months.

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UN OCHA map showing the threat to the Bedouin communities living in the E1 and greater E1 area.

Kfar Adumim is an illegal Israeli settlement established in 1979 and has a population of over 2,500 settlers. It is located just outside the boundaries of the E1 project but is just as strategically important for Israel’s plans for the area. The planned route of the apartheid wall encircles Kfar Adumim to include it in what Israel refer to as the Greater Jerusalem area. As the E1 plan will facilitate this further land grab, with much the same results, we have decided to refer to this area between Ma’ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim as the ‘wider E1 area‘. Continue reading