A group of protesters blocked the entrance of a Barclays bank in Birmingham to highlight the ongoing bombing of Gaza.

The activists held aloft Palestinians flags and banners in front of the city centre branch yesterday (Saturday 27 January) as part of a national day of continuing protests against the bank.

Customers were still able to enter and leave the entrance to the bank and people were seen inside the branch as normal.

West Midlands campaigners targeted the Barclays brand in High Street in the city centre, chanting and displaying placards and signs urging the bank to end its affiliation with companies they believe enable the Israeli occupation and military bombardment of Palestine.

Coinciding with a national day of action, similar protests were also held outside branches of Barclays in London, Coventry, Leeds, Derby, and several other towns and cities.

In Brighton, dozens of activists entered a branch chanting “Barclays Bank, you can’t hide, you’re committing genocide’.

Around 20 activists also held a protest outside the Kensington branch of Barclays in west London, just a few hundred metres from the Israeli Embassy.

Protestors claims Barclays ‘provides more than £3 billion in loans and underwriting to companies whose weapons, components, and military technology have been used in Israel’s armed violence against Palestinians’.

Barclays is one of the companies featured on pro-Palestine BDS boycott listsAdam Yosef
Barclays is one of the companies featured on pro-Palestine BDS boycott lists

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) co-organised the pickets and instructed supporters: “As Israel’s genocidal assault on Palestinians continues, take action on Saturday 27 January 2024 to demand Britain stop arming Israel!

“Barclays bank holds substantial financial ties with arms companies supplying weapons and military technology to Israel, used in its attacks on Palestinians.”

According to PSC: “Most high street banks hold financial ties with companies complicit in Israeli apartheid. Our research has identified Barclays as a major financier of companies arming Israel. It is therefore the current target of our campaign.”

Boycotts for Palestine are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement – simply known as ‘BDS’ –  a Palestinian-led movement for “freedom, justice and equality”.

Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid solidarity, campaigners believe boycotts are a legitimate means of pressuring Israel to comply with international law.

Barclays does not deny offering banking services to firms in the defence and weapons industry.

“Barclays is committed to respecting human rights as defined by the International Bill of Human Rights and takes account of other internationally accepted human rights standards and frameworks,” a spokesperson for the bank said.

The BDS movement calls on Barclays to divest from arms companies supplying Israel with weaponsAdam Yosef
The BDS movement calls on Barclays to divest from arms companies supplying Israel with weapons

“We have a published statement on defence and security which sets out our policy positions and governs any business activities in the defence and security sector, including setting restrictions on certain financing activities and requiring enhanced due diligence as appropriate on clients in the sector.

“As a universal bank, Barclays provides a range of client services in relation to the shares of publicly listed companies, including those in the defence and security sector.

“Such client-driven activities may result in Barclays holding shares in those companies, for example, through hedging positions, market making, custody and underwriting activity.

“Barclays does not itself intend to make any direct strategic equity investments in the defence and security sector.”

The UK protests took place just a day after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) demanded that Israel limit death and destruction in its military offensive in Palestine, in response to South Africa’s allegation of Israel committing genocide.

The United Nation’s highest court ruled that Israel must take all measures to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza, but stopped short of ordering an immediate halt to operations.

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