Insurer AXA helps Israel kill Palestinians and steal their land

Activists in Paris protest and deliver a petition at the April 2018 annual general meeting of AXA, urging the insurance giant to divest from Israeli companies involved in war crimes. (BDS France)

Multinational insurance giant AXA has boosted its investments in Israeli companies that make weapons to kill Palestinians and that finance the theft of their land for colonization.

AXA’s investments in arms manufacturer Elbit Systems and five major Israeli banks increased from $66 million in 2018 to over $91 million this year, according to a new report commissioned by global corporate watchdog SumOfUs.

The report says AXA’s investments “may expose the company to criminal prosecution for complicity in gross human rights violations, including war crimes under both French and International law.”

SumOfUs is urging France-based AXA to divest from these firms in order to comply with international human rights standards and French law.

The report, “AXA: Financing War Crimes,” is available in English and French.

Testing weapons on Palestinian civilians

Elbit Systems is Israel’s biggest arms maker. It produces internationally banned cluster munitions, white phosphorus bombs and most of the drones the Israeli military uses to attack Palestinian civilians.

Israel used cluster bombs with devastating effect against civilians during its 2006 invasion of Lebanon.

Elbit also makes equipment for Israel’s annexation and separation wall in the occupied West Bank, which was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice, and to enforce Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

“The Israeli army buys weapons from this company and tests them on Palestinian civilians to see how they kill, maim or injure; then, this company goes on to export its weapons under the label ‘battle tested’ or ‘combat proven,’” the report notes.

Financing war crimes

AXA and its affiliates also hold tens of millions of dollars worth of shares and bonds in Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank, Israel Discount Bank and First International Bank of Israel.

These banks provide the financial backbone for building, maintaining and expanding Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Israel’s construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land is a war crime.

Human Rights Watch and settlement watchdog Who Profits have extensively documented the role of the banks in Israel’s settlement enterprise.

The Coalition Stop AXA Complicity with Israeli Apartheid has launched an online campaign so that individuals can send a message to AXA managers in France, Germany, Switzerland and Egypt demanding that the company divest.

Groups from nine countries in Europe and the Arab world participate in the coalition which has organized demonstrations outside AXA offices and at its annual shareholders meeting in Paris.

“An insurer should protect lives,” said Alys Samson Estapé, the Europe coordinator for Palestine’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC).

“Instead, AXA is profiting from the destruction of Palestinian lives and livelihoods.”

Estapé added that Palestinian civil society has called on firms “to cut ties of complicity” with companies directly involved in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights.

“Israel can only maintain its regime of occupation and apartheid over the Palestinian people through support from governments and companies such as AXA,” BDS France coordinator Imen Habib said.

“As long as AXA maintains its investments in these Israeli banks and Elbit Systems, protests by our growing global coalition will intensify.”

Two years ago, 70 organizations, political parties and trade unions urged AXA to divest from the Israeli banks and Elbit Systems.

More than 140,000 people have signed a petition backing the call, but the company has brushed aside concerns over its role in Israeli war crimes.

In a tweet, the BNC, the steering group for the Palestinian BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – campaign, called for increased pressure on AXA.




Upon reading this article, I did a little homework to discover that my old and trusted Swiss Winterthur insurance was bought by the French AXA group in 2006 and that its name will disappear next year. I had already vaguely noticed an "AXA" on the letterhead with Winterthur. I signed the petition regardless. Question: is it preferable to stay insured with them, and so insist on a right to know what they are up to, or to change insurance companies ?


If I were you, I would write to them and tell them that you will be changing insurers when your insurance runs out because........................................


One option is to share your concerns with AXA in a letter referring to the SumOfUs report. If AXA's reply is not satisfactory, you can consider to end your relationship with the company.

Adri Nieuwhof

Adri Nieuwhof's picture

Adri Nieuwhof is a human rights advocate based in the Netherlands and former anti-apartheid activist at the Holland Committee on Southern Africa. Twitter: @steketeh