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

Protestors
Eliza Egret

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.

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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

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.

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