Banking giant HSBC was targeted by human rights campaigners on Saturday, due to its links to companies providing arms and equipment to the Israeli military.Â
Activists protested outside more than 30 of the bank’s high street branches in the UK over the weekend, demanding HSBC end its part-ownership of companies arming Israel, according to a press release by Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
The group called the demonstrations due to HSBC holding shares in arms companies such as Elbit Systems, which supplies drones to the Israeli military.
These aerial vehicles have been used in a number of attacks on Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.
A strike by anÂ Elbit HermesÂ drone in 2014 killed four Palestinian children as they played football on a Gaza beach, it was recently reported.
“Israel’s racist discrimination and brutal violence against Palestinians is clear for all to see,” campaigns officer at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Huda Ammori, said.
“More and more of HSBC’s customers are deeply unhappy about the bank’s involvement in the arms trade with Israel which enables these daily violations. Until HSBC stops making a killing from Israel’s deadly attacks on Palestinians, these protests will continue to grow.”
HSBC holds around ÂŁ831 million ($1.1 billion) worth of shares in companies selling weapons to Israel, the campaign added, including BAE Systems, Boeing and Raytheon.Â
The UK civil society group also said the bank provided ÂŁ19.3 billion ($25.4 billion)Â to companies like Caterpillar and United Technologies, which equip Israel’s military with machinery, such as bulldozers that have been used to level Palestinian homes.
Protests were held outside branches in London, Manchester, Liverpool and other cities.
|Protests were held outside HSBC branches across the UK [PSC]|
The campaign has also seen over 20,000 people email HSBC Group Chief Executive John Flint over the bank’s shares in the arms companies.
Ryvka Barnard from campaign group War on Want also called on HSBC to re-think its links with these groups.Â
“HSBC is a major shareholder in companies selling weapons and military technology to Israel including Elbit Systems, which manufactures drones and surveillance technology, and has recently sold the Israeli military an artillery system specifically chosen for its ability to be used for cluster munitions,” she said.
“HSBC claims to have a strict policy against doing business with companies involved in cluster munitions production, but as of 2017, it held ÂŁ3.6 million ($4.7 million) worth of shares in Elbit Systems.
“HSBC must divest from Elbit, and all other companies complicit in grave human rights abuses.”
Over 20 HSBC branches in the UK have been the regular target of protests and pickets since the groups launched their campaign in July 2017.
Shareholders at the bank’s annual general meeting in April have also called on the HSBC board to divest from Elbit Systems and other companies supplying weapons to Israel.