Caterpillar has become a central target of boycott campaigners because of its role as Israelï¿½s primary supplier of bulldozers ï¿½ one of the most destructive weapons in the arsenal of the illegal Israeli occupation. This machinery is used to demolish Palestinian homes, public buildings, olive trees and crops.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) frequently destroy the homes of already-impoverished Palestinian civilians. Since the beginning of Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank in 1967, Israel has destroyed over 7,000 buildings, leaving 50,000 men, women and children homeless. The IDF’s weapon of choice in its home demolition campaign is the specially designed Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer. Caterpillar bulldozers are used for more than house demolitions. Since the Intifada began, Israeli troops and settlers using Caterpillar equipment have uprooted an estimated 385,000 olive trees ï¿½ as well as orchards of dates, prunes, lemons and oranges. The economic hardship this has imposed on thousands of Palestinians comes on top of already dire levels of unemployment and poverty in the Occupied Territories.
More recently Caterpillar digging equipment is being used to construct Israel’s “security fence” (also known as the Apartheid Wall) on Palestinian land inside the West Bank.
Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharonï¿½s destruction of Palestinian homes, sometimes with their occupants still inside, has earned him the nickname of “the Bulldozer”, while Israeli commentators have argued that the bulldozer has now become the true symbol of Israel ï¿½ alongside the tank.
During the April 2002 offensive in the Jenin refugee camp, in a little more than a week, at least 140 buildings were flattened and 200 more severely damaged, leaving an estimated 4,000 people homeless-more than a quarter of the camp’s population. Three decades prior to this Sharon ordered the bulldozing of hundreds of homes in Gaza, while the occupants were still inside.
“The alley was just three feet wide before the Israeli army sent its heavily armored Caterpillar D-9 down what is now a rutted track,” Time magazine reported. “As you walk along itï¿½your feet raise little puffs of dust from the rubble of what were once concrete homes. The path is covered with the litter of war-broken sea-green ceramic tiles, a punctured cooking-gas cylinder, a thin foam mattress, a blond-haired baby doll.”
Activists are demanding that shoe shops “Give Caterpillar the boot”. This is part of an international boycott of Caterpillar Corporation and other companies that are complicit with the Israeli occupation.
A spokesperson for the activists said: “Caterpillar claims to strive to contribute toward a global environment in which all people can work safely and live healthy, productive lives, now and in the future. So to be selling bulldozers to Israel for the purpose of destroying Palestinian homes is at best hypocritical and at worst criminal. We hope that todayï¿½s action will send a clear message to Caterpillar that it cannot continue to support Israelï¿½s criminal policies.”
Caterpillar Corporation has recently been selected as one of the ten worst corporations of 2002 by the US organisation Multinational Monitor.
Activists will meet at Hanover Square, near Oxfam Circus, at 10.45.
Chris Dunham, Tel. 07904 267306
Mortaza Sahibzada, Tel. 07946 351319 or Email: email@example.com