Tag Archives: Siege of Gaza

Apartheid in the fields: From occupied Palestine to UK Supermarkets

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Israeli agricultural export companies are profiting from the Israeli colonisation of Palestinian land.

In 2005 a broad coalition of Palestinians made a call for ordinary people all over the world to take action to boycott Israeli goods, companies and state institutions: “We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.”

This call has inspired a global solidarity movement aimed at targeting Israeli capitalism in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against oppression. We have compiled articles and interviews with Palestinian agricultural workers and farmers in the West Bank and Gaza, together with information on many of the Israeli exporters and UK supermarkets, as a resource for campaigners seeking to follow this call.

Trading under siege: the dying export industry in the Gaza Strip

Corporate Watch researchers visited the Gaza Strip during November and December 2013 and carried out interviews with farmers in Beit Hanoun, Al Zaytoun, Khuza’a, Al Maghazi and Rafah, as well as with representatives from Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), Palestine Crops and the Gaza Agricultural Co-operative in Beit Lahiya. This is the second of two articles highlighting what their experiences show: that Palestinians in Gaza face significant and diverse difficulties when it comes to farming their land and harvesting and exporting their produce under siege, and that Israel enforces what amounts to a de facto boycott of produce from the Gaza Strip. The first article, about farmers’ experiences of working the land in Gaza, can be found here.

A dependent economy

“The Israeli occupation allows us to export a small quantity of produce, just to show the world that they are nice to the Palestinians, but they are using us. Everything we do is controlled by them”

Saad Ziada, Union of Agricultural Work Committees


A queue of goods vehicles approaching the Karam Abu Salem goods crossing in the Gaza Strip. Photo by Corporate Watch December 2013

As a result of economic agreements made during the period of the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Palestinian economy as a whole has become totally dependent on Israel. The Paris Protocol, signed in 1994, is an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority which outlines the economic relations between the two in the areas of customs, taxes, labour, agriculture, industry and tourism. In theory the protocol was meant to facilitate the free movement of goods, including agricultural produce, and give Palestinians access to international markets, but in practice it has worked as a basis for consolidating Israeli domination of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Whilst Israel benefits from tax free access to markets in the Occupied Territories, Palestinian exports are strictly controlled by Israel and can only be carried out through Israeli companies, hence benefiting the economy of the occupier.

When it comes to the Gaza Strip, the situation for Palestinians is even worse. Since the tightening of the siege in 2007, Israel has implemented a de facto economic boycott of Gaza, with no industrial goods and a minimal amount of agricultural exports being allowed through the Israeli controlled Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) goods crossing only. The Karni (or Al Montar) crossing, which was established as a main terminal in 1994 to facilitate the transfer of goods between the Gaza Strip and Israel, was closed permanently in 2011 as the siege intensified. Before the closure the crossing had been effectively non-operational since Hamas’ takeover of the Strip in 2007, only running a skeleton service through a conveyor belt transporting gravel and animal feed. The Rafah crossing to Egypt is completely closed for exports from Gaza.

Since 2007 farmers in Gaza have been prohibited from selling their produce to Israel and the West Bank, traditionally their biggest markets. Continue reading

An interview with Ayah Bashir, BDS activist from Gaza

A longer version interview with Ayah can be viewed here.

An interview with Ayah Bashir from the besieged Gaza Strip about what inspired her to get involved in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS).

In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. A truly global movement against Israeli apartheid is rapidly emerging in response to this call. For more information about the movement see here.

To read more about Ayah and the call for solidarity from Gaza see here.

The interviews were filmed in December 2013.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions in Gaza: empowering action

As we write this there is an ongoing massacre in the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of the operation on July 8, which the Israeli Occupation Forces are calling ‘Protective Edge’, 620 Palestinians have been killed and 3,752 injured according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Over 70% are estimated to be civilians. By the time you read this those figures will be higher and Israel’s bombardment shows no sign of slowing down.

The increasingly big protests that have taken place around the world prove that solidarity with Palestine is growing and that people are ready to stand up to Israeli war crimes. But big demonstrations are not enough. This is the time to intensify action. One way for internationals to do that is to join the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel. The BDS National Committee (BNC) has issued an urgent call for people to take action for Gaza, as well as a renewed call for an immediate arms embargo on Israel.

Brighton demo for Gaza

One of the many demonstrations against Israel’s massacre in Gaza. Photo by Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Continue reading

L-3 and Garrett supplying equipment for Gaza checkpoint

The Beit Hanoun (Erez) checkpoint taken from the Palestinian side, photo taken in 2013  by the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative,

The Beit Hanoun (Erez) checkpoint taken from the Palestinian side, photo taken in 2013 by the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative,

The Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing is the only crossing for people who want to go directly from Gaza into the 1948 borders of Israel. People wishing to cross must apply for a permit and only a small number of permits are granted. Privileged people such as foreign journalists (who are not overly critical of Israel), NGO workers, business people and politicians are often granted permits. Other people have to go through the Rafah crossing from southern Gaza into Egypt.

The Beit Hanoun crossing is subject to frequent closures by the Israeli authorities. The terminal has been closed since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on 12 June. This closure amounts to an act of collective punuishment against everyone in Gaza by the Israeli state.

The crossing is also the only way for hundreds of sick patients to obtain treatment. Israeli military attacks have destroyed vital services in Gaza, while the Israeli siege has prevented life saving equipment from reaching services in the Strip. See Corporate Watch’s recent briefing, Besieging health services in Gaza: a profitable business, to find out more about the effects of the siege on health in Gaza.

Corporate Watch did not apply for permission to cross through the Beit Hanoun crossing as we didn’t think that it would be granted. However, we did ask an NGO worker who was crossing to take a look at the equipment used in the terminal. The NGO worker, who wished to remain anonymous told us “Coming from Israel, you first go through a private Israeli security firm check where your permit number is confirmed so that you can enter the terminal, then in the terminal you go through another Israeli security ‘border patrol’ check. Once through that you go on a long walk to the Palestinian Authority checkpoint where you’re registered, then you get into a taxi and drive just a minute to the Hamas checkpoint where another permit by the local government is checked. That’s the process for getting into Gaza.”

He told us “I saw the machine’s makes: ProVision on the full body scans, Garret on the metal detectors.”

Garrett are a US based security equipment supplier. In 2013 Corporate Watch reported that Garrett scanning equipment was being used by the police in the occupied West Bank. Garrett equipment is used by HM Court ‘Service’ in the UK. In our view, BDS campaigners should pressure HMCS to end its contract with Garrett because of its supply of security equipment used to enforce the unlawful siege of Gaza.

Corporate Watch contacted Garrett with a list of questions about the use of its equipment at the Beit Hanoun crossing but received no reply.

The PROVision scanners are manufactured by L-3. L-3 is a provider of military and security products and services. According to Who Profits it supplied body scanners to the Beit Hanoun terminal via Hashmira Israel, a security company owned by British-Danish company G4S.