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In the immediate aftermath of the judgment from the ICJ, tens of thousands of people across the UK expected to join protests demanding Britain stops arming Israel

  • Around 100 actions are taking place in towns and cities
  • Many of the actions are directed against Barclays Bank which holds substantial financial investments in arms companies supplying Israel
  • UK political leaders are urged to stop their complicity in Israeli war crimes

Today, the International Court of Justice has ruled that there is plausible evidence that Israel is committing genocidal acts in its assault on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. After outlining the devastating impact of Israel’s carpet bombing and ground invasion, the court ruled that urgent measures must be taken to protect Palestinians. The ICJ ruling carries huge implications for the UK, which must act to ensure it is not aiding the commission of the crime of genocide. The ruling has vindicated the hundreds of thousands of people who over the past few months have protested against Israel’s actions and taken to the streets demanding that the UK Government act to call for a ceasefire and end its complicity in Israel’s commission of war crimes.

Saturday January 27th sees a seventh National Day of Action, called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and its partners, to oppose Israel’s onslaught against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. More than 25 000 people have been killed, the majority of them women and children; thousands more are missing, presumed dead, under the rubble of Israel’s bombardment. António Guterres, the UN secretary general, described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as “appalling”, and said, “Everyone in Gaza is hungry – with a quarter of Gaza’s population – more than half a million people – grappling with catastrophic levels of food insecurity.” Today the ICJ in its ruling endorsed this account of the human catastrophe Israel has caused by its actions in Gaza.

In this context it is appalling that Britain continues to provide arms export licences for weapons and military technology to supply Israel. Just last week it was revealed that Foreign Office officials in several assessments have raised serious concerns that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and blocking of aid supplies may be in breach of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), which would be compelling grounds to suspend arms exports. The Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron, instead chose to conclude “that Israel is committed to complying with IHL.” Today’s ruling means that if the UK continues to sell arms to Israel it is selling arms to a state being investigated by the highest international judicial body for the crime of genocide.

Barclays Bank is bankrolling Israel’s war crimes. It holds over £1 billion in shares, and provides over £3 billion in loans and underwriting to 9 companies whose weapons, components, and military technology are being used by Israel in its attacks on Palestinians. This includes General Dynamics, which produces the gun systems that arm the fighter jets used by Israel to bombard Gaza, and Elbit Systems, which produces armoured drones, munitions and artillery weapons used by the Israeli military.

Many of the actions on Saturday – from Abergavenny to Worthing – will target Barclays branches. PSC is leading a campaign for British people to boycott Barclays, just as the Anti-Apartheid Movement did decades ago over Barclays support for apartheid South Africa. Hundreds of people are closing their accounts and refusing to bank with Barclays until it ends its complicity with Israel’s slaughter and oppression of Palestinians.

Ben Jamal, PSC Director, said :

“Today’s ruling at the ICJ carries immediate implications for the UK Government as a signatory to the Genocide Convention. The UK must not aid acts which the Court has declared to be a plausible case of genocide. The Government must therefore immediately suspend all arms sales to Israel.

The UK government is complicit but so are financial institutions like Barclays Bank that continue to fund and invest in arms companies directly involved in creating the catastrophe that has overtaken Gaza. It is morally indefensible to arm Israel, just as it was morally indefensible when Barclays propped up South African apartheid for decades. History is going to repeat itself – just like anti-apartheid activists did then, we will force Barclays to stop banking on Israeli apartheid and stop funding a genocide in Gaza.”