The UK anti-poverty charity War on Want condemned the British construction equipment company JCB after Israel used its machinery to destroy the only children’s playground in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, which borders Jerusalem’s old city. I reported on the demolition in my blog on 15 February.
In its 20 February press statement, War on Want called on JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford to investigate the use of JCB machines in human rights violations and halt sales of equipment to Israel. It contrasts the use of JCB machines to clear the playground with Bamford’s claim to “want a better future for our children, where hard work and dedication are given their just reward,” and his company’s funding of charities supporting vulnerable children.
Greg Muttitt, campaigns and policy director at War on Want, said: “It is unacceptable that a British company like JCB should profit from human rights violations. Unless the firm takes immediate action to scrutinise Israel’s use of its equipment, JCB will appear complicit in the attacks on children and communities.”
In a letter to Bamford, War on Want demanded that “JCB seeks undertakings from Israeli customers that its bulldozers will not be used in further house demolitions, which have been ruled illegal under international law.”
War on Want clarifies in its statement:
The planned home demolitions are prohibited by the UN’s fourth Geneva convention. Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, has called Israel’s actions in east Jerusalem and surrounding areas such as Silwan as a “devastating policy designed to achieve the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians”.
British foreign minister Alistair Burt has condemned the planned demolitions in Silwan as “another provocative and deeply counter-productive step” by the Israeli authorities.
According to Maan News Agency, the local missions of the European Union also condemned the demolition of the playground and community center in Silwan.
New demolitions by Israeli forces executed with JCB machine
Meanwhile, a JCB and a CASE bulldozer were used to demolish Palestinian property in the villages of Saadet Tha’lah and Ar Rakeez in the occupied south Hebron hills on 15 February. The two bulldozers were escorted by jeeps of the Israeli occupation forces.
In Saadet Tha’lah village, one house, two water tanks and two stables were demolished. Five lambs died under the rubble, reports the Palestine Solidarity Project. The JCB and CASE bulldozers and the army jeeps were then driven to Ar Rakeez to demolish one water tank under construction and to uproot twenty olive trees and thirty almond trees.