Campaigners from across the UK have converged at JCB's Global Longistics Headquarters in Staffordshire to protest the use of the company's bulldozers in the demolition of Palestinian homes by the Israeli military, on Thursday.
Activists arrived at 6:30 in the morning and locked themselves in place using reinforced arm-tubes in order to prevent the company's deliveries in and out of the depot.
"Resisting Demolitions in Palestine," a new book published by the activist researchers Shoal Collective said that Israel carried out at least 461 demolitions of Palestinian homes and property during 2018. JCB machinery was used in at least 130 of these instances, including in the demolition of two Palestinian schools.
Tom Anderson, a researcher from Shoal Collective, and one of the activists present said: “Demolitions carried out with JCB machinery resulted in at least 130 Palestinians being made homeless, including 31 children. JCB should take steps to ensure that its equipment cannot be used in Israel’s home demolitions. If the company does nothing, then they are complicit in Israel’s war crimes.”
Last year, JCB’s machinery was used in the preparations for the demolition of the entire Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan Al Ahmar.
The planned demolitions were condemned by Amnesty International and the International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor as a war crime. The demolitions have so far been averted as a result of popular outcry.
The protesters pointed out that the use of JCB equipment to destroy schools in Palestine seems to run counter to the company’s support for the NSPCC children's’ charity in the UK.
Michelle Noor, who was also present at the protest said: “If JCB were serious about preventing cruelty to children, they would stop their machinery from being used to demolish schools in Palestine.”
Michelle continued, “we won’t stop taking direct action against JCB until they stop their bulldozers being used in war crimes”.
Last September, Palestine Solidarity activists held a similar blockade of JCB’s Power Systems HQ near Derby.
JCB has been targeted in response to the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee’s (BNC) call last year.
The Palestinian BNC gave the following statement: “Popular struggle and international solidarity have defended Khan al-Ahmar until today from expulsion, and have stopped the bulldozers manufactured by international corporations from inflicting destruction … It is the role of the BDS movement to mobilize global pressure against Israel’s impunity in perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity and against corporate complicity in these crimes.”
They called on ordinary people around the world to take the following actions in solidarity with the people of Khan al-Ahmar, and all other Palestinian communities facing demolition by the Israeli state: “Organize protests at the offices of the JCB, Caterpillar, Volvo, Hyundai, Hitachi, and Liu Gong. Ask them to terminate their contracts with Israel’s occupation forces, and to commit to halting the delivery of all further equipment or services that may be used by Israel in activities that violate fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people.”