Damning new evidence reveals JCB’s impact on Palestinian people as trial against UK activists collapses

Protestors
Support us and go ad-free

Disclosure: The author of this piece is also a researcher for Corporate Occupation, whose work this article cites.

New figures reveal that JCB’s bulldozers affected at least 29,483 Palestinian people in 2019. Israel extensively uses the British-owned company’s equipment to bulldoze Palestinian homes and livelihoods. Campaigners argue that JCB is knowingly complicit in Israeli war crimes.

Evidence

The new research by Corporate Occupation shows that JCB’s equipment was most used to target people living in vulnerable Palestinian villages. In its colonialist quest to steal more and more land, Israel repeatedly bulldozes structures in these communities. JCB bulldozers dug up almost 7,000 olive & fruit trees in 2019, directly destroying Palestinian villagers’ livelihoods. The machines also destroyed at least 20 freshwater systems, cutting people off from their basic human right to drinking water.

The Canary contacted JCB for comment but received no reply at the time of publication.

Bamfords

For more than a year, activists and lawyers have been campaigning for JCB to prevent its machines being used in Israeli war crimes. The Bamford family, which owns JCB, has repeatedly ignored all attempts to engage with them. The Bamfords, with an estimated wealth of £3.6bn, are also significant Tory party donors.

Boris Johnson’s MP register of interests shows that donations from Anthony Bamford (JCB chair) and JCB totalled £131,000 in 2019 alone.

Since 2001, Electoral Commission records show the Bamford family and JCB have given “almost £10m in political donations”, primarily to the Conservative Party and groups “campaigning to leave” the EU.

Trial collapses

Activists have taken direct action against the company. In March 2019, protesters laid in the road, connecting themselves to each other with concrete tubes, and blocked transport coming in and out of JCB’s World Logistics headquarters.

The trial against the four activists collapsed this week. In a press statement, the campaigners stated that:

On no less than four occasions, the Crown prosecution had either changed the charge or had been ordered by the court to define the charge properly.

The prosecution offered no evidence against the defendants, and the case was dismissed, with costs awarded to all four protesters.

Outside court, Natalie, a campaigner for Stop The Demolitions, stated that:

The campaign against JCB will continue and intensify, as the evidence is that JCB’s Directors currently have no regard for the lives of Palestinians facing the daily threat of destruction of their homes, their olive groves and their communities.

Pressure mounts against JCB

In December 2019, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights made a human rights complaint against JCB over the company’s involvement in illegal settlement construction and home demolitions.

And in February, the UN named JCB on its long-awaited list of businesses involved in settlements. Comasco, JCB’s exclusive distributor in Israel, was also named. For more than a year, the Israeli state desperately tried to prevent the publication of the list, and was furious when it was finally published.

It’s time that JCB engages with campaigners about its complicity in Israeli war crimes, puts people before profit, and stops supplying the Israeli state with bulldozers.

Featured image via Stop The Demolitions

Support us and go ad-free

Get involved

  • Now, more than ever, we must not be intimidated by the current climate. We must call out the racist policies of the Israeli government and support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
  • The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions is calling on their supporters to write to their MP, and to JCB, over the use of the company’s equipment by Israeli forces.
  •  Find out more about the Stop the Demolitions campaign against JCB.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us