HSBC’s annual general meeting on Friday was attended by activists from War on Want and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, asking the bank about its business dealings with companies selling weapons and military equipment to Israel. Over a quarter of questions asked at the AGM were about the bank’s complicity in human rights violations against Palestinians. Several referenced the bank’s criminal complicity in other abuses.
Outside, protesters at a demonstration organised by War on Want and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign called on HSBC to end its complicity in violence and human rights abuses against Palestinians and to ‘Stop Arming Israel’.
Over 18,000 people around the UK have expressed their concerns on the issue in writing to HSBC Group Chief Executive John Flint. Over 20 HSBC branches nationwide have seen regular protests and pickets.
British high street bank HSBC profits from Israel’s military violence against Palestinians through investments and loans to companies which supply military equipment to Israel.
HSBC holds £831 million worth of shares in companies that sell weapons and military equipment to Israel; it is involved in syndicated loans worth at least £19.3 billion to companies that sell weapons and military equipment to Israel. Elbit Systems, one of the companies HSBC holds shares in, produces cannons to fire cluster munitions which Israel ordered as recently as August 2017. Cluster munitions are banned by an international treaty, signed by the UK, but not Israel.
Israel’s security forces use such weapons for brutal and illegal violence against Palestinians, including extrajudicial executions, attacks on unarmed protesters, house demolitions using armoured equipment, mass arrests and the military blockade and large scale bombings on the Gaza Strip. The international Criminal Court is currently investigating the recent killings of unarmed protesters in Gaza and the UN is compiling a list of companies complicit in Israeli violations of international law.
Read War on Want’s report, Deadly Investments; UK bank complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people’.