Last Friday, parents with toddlers demonstrated in front of Hamleys London flagship toy store to protest the use of JCB equipment in Israel’s crimes against Palestinian children and communities — particularly the ongoing and imminent destruction of dozens of Palestinian family homes in occupied Jerusalem.
The world largest toy store is preparing to sell a new range of JCB branded toys for British firm JCB. People supported the protest by phoning JCB to demand that the company end their complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. The actions took place to launch the Stop the Bulldozers-campaign of British charity War on Want, aiming to end JCB’s complicity in the violations of Palestinian human rights. War on Want writes in a 1 June press release:
The protestors cite JCB bulldozers’ use to demolish the only Palestinian children’s playground in the district of Silwan in East Jerusalem and JCB equipment’s part in the construction of the illegal Apartheid Wall, Israeli settlements and the demolition of Palestinian homes.
The charity War on Want wrote to JCB after the playground was demolished. But JCB has failed to respond to its request for the company to investigate the use of JCB equipment in Silwan and ensure that it will not be used in illegal demolitions.
Kat Hobbs, War on Want’s Save Silwan campaigner, said: “JCB is trying to corner the kids’ market with the My First JCB range of toys and clothes. Yet for Palestinian children, their first JCB experience is when a digger is destroying their home and playground. JCB needs to stop its bulldozers being used as weapons against the Palestinian people.”
British foreign office minister Alistair Burt has confirmed the government knew about claims that equipment manufactured by a UK construction equipment company “may have been used in demolitions”. But, despite branding the demolition of the playground “contrary to Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law” the Foreign Office has taken no further action.
Over 1,000 Palestinians in Silwan face the threat of their homes being destroyed to make way for a theme park, in the largest mass demolition since 1967, the year Israel took control of east Jerusalem.
War on Want uncovers JCB’s complicity in Israel’s crimes against Palestinians in new report
Meanwhile, War on Want launched its Stop the Bulldozers report which reveals JCB’s complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. The report mentions the use of JCB equipment in illegal settlement construction and in the demolition of Palestinian homes, mosques and olive trees in occupied Palestinian territories including occupied East Jerusalem.
In addition, the report mentions the demolition of the only children’s playground in Silwan. The playground and sports field at the Madaa creative centre was used as a football pitch and recreation ground by local children. JCB’s machines were filmed and photographed carrying out the demolition without warning and without a demolition order.
Citing Who Profits, a research project of the Coalition of Women for Peace, War on Want writes:
Company trucks are used in the construction of settlement and checkpoints. For instance, they were used in the construction of homes in the West Bank settlements of Alfei Menashe and Zufin, at the checkpoint in Qalandia and at the checkpoint near Ofer prison, and in the Ariel West settlement industrial zone. Their excavators and other equipment are used in the construction of the A1 train line between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, which is being constructed on Palestinian land in Latrun.
Report reveals JCB sale of armored bulldozer to Israeli army
JCB has recently sold the HMEE military equipment through the American Foreign Military Sales program to the Central Command unit of the Israeli army for use by their paratroopers’ division. JCB has worked with the Israeli army to modify the vehicles to their specific requirements. The machines are already in use by the Israeli army’s Combat Engineering Corps. The Central Command unit of the Israeli army has responsibility for much of the occupied West Bank. The Israeli army writes on its website that “According to the JCB Company, the HMEE offers its crew superior defense and is resistant to bullets and explosions.”
JCB Defence Products Limited is listed as a separate UK company, according to War on Want’s report. JCB developed the High Mobility Engineer Excavator (HMEE) in the UK for the US army. It is now manufactured in JCB’s factory in Savannah, Georgia, USA. The HMEE was used in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Stop the bulldozers, act now
The report concludes with the following suggestions for action:
It is unacceptable that a British company like JCB should profit from sales of military and demolition equipment to Israel in the sure knowledge that this equipment may well be used to violate human rights. Despite ongoing abuses, the UK has done nothing to bring Israel to account for its actions, or to stop British companies from supporting the occupation of Palestine with goods and services. War on Want is calling on JCB to:
- Investigate the use of JCB equipment in human rights violations in Palestine
- Suspend all military sales to Israel
- Take steps to ensure that JCB equipment is not used to commit human rights violations in Palestine
The charity is calling for people to contact JCB at the address given below to raise concerns over its activities in Palestine.
Email JCB: firstname.lastname@example.org
Write to JCB: J C Bamford Excavators Limited, Rocester, Staffordshire ST14 5JP
Telephone JCB: +44 (0)800 581761 or +44(0) 20 7491 2576