Skip to main content

Israel and ‘Deadly Investments’

In July 2017, War on Want released a report on the relationship between UK financial institutions and companies selling arms and military equipment to Israel that have been used in the oppression of Palestinians.

The report looked at two main forms of support: holding shares in relevant companies, and providing loans to them.

It found that UK banks and financial institutions held over £10.8 billion worth of shares in implicated companies, such as BAE Systems, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

War on Want says, “UK banks and financial institutions participate in Israel’s militarised repression.”

Financial institution Value of loans to relevant companies Shareholdings in relevant companies
Barclays £41.1 billion £1167 million
HSBC £19.3 billion £832 million
Lloyds Bank £43.2 billion -
RBS £16.6 billion -
Legal & General - £4521 million
Standard Life - £1300 million
Aviva - £801 million

All the companies in the report received a mark in the Arms & Military Supply column on the score table.

The Co-operative Bank is named as the one major UK bank that is not connected to arms sales to Israel either through shareholdings or financing. (The report did not include smaller banks such as Triodos.)

Following on from this report, the Stop Arming Israel coalition organised a week of action targeting HSBC specifically.

Activists closed down two branches of HSBC bank, distributed flyers and took online action. The campaign is set to continue in the coming year.

Three of the arms companies in the report

Caterpillar bulldozers and other products are used in the demolition of Palestinian homes, schools, orchards, olive groves, and crops, as well as in the construction of the wall the runs through occupied West Bank.

Its bulldozers have been used as weapons, and in 2009 a specially developed unmanned remote controlled bulldozer was used to destroy Palestinian’s homes during the Israeli assault on Gaza.

US activist Rachel Corries was killed by a Caterpillar D9 weaponised bulldozer in 2003, while she was trying to protect the home of a Palestinian family.

Its military wheel loaders are also used as a means of crowd control against unarmed Palestinians in Kufr Qaddum protesting against illegal settlements.

Elbit is Israel’s largest military company. It supplies sensor and surveillance technologies used in Israel’s wall in occupied West Bank.

It also provides a wide range of weaponry, including aerial drones, armed ground robots, aerial platforms, smart helmets and tank visualisation systems used in Israel’s 2009 and 2014 assaults on Gaza.

Elbit has produced the chemical white phosphorous, which is banned under international law for use in civilian areas. Israel has been criticised for its use of white phosphorous during attacks on Palestinians.

Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest weapons manufacturer. It has sold key military items to Israel, including F16 fighter jets and Hellfire missiles. According to a UN fact-finding missions, Hellfire missiles have been used against civilians, during Israel’s 2008-09 attack on Gaza.

Where can I find out more?

For more information, see the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The full War on Want report is available here: ‘Deadly Investments, UK bank complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people’.

Our Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions, article has information about the situation in Palestine and what the BDS movement is.

What is the situation in 2024?

For people looking to avoid supporting companies associated with Israeli support of the ongoing occupation, we have created a list of alternative brands.

You can also read more about understanding boycott calls in an article on which boycotts are legitimate.

Free Issue

Sign up now to our email newsletter for a free digital copy of Ethical Consumer magazine.

Sign up now for our email newsletter