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British firm JCB helps Israel commit war crimes

A JCB bulldozer, guarded by Israeli occupation forces, is used to uproot olive trees on private Palestinian land near Nabi Elias in the occupied West Bank in order to build a road for Israeli settlers, 16 January 2017.
A JCB bulldozer, guarded by Israeli occupation forces, is used to uproot olive trees on private Palestinian land near Nabi Elias in the occupied West Bank in order to build a road for Israeli settlers, 16 January 2017.

Occupation authorities have given residents of the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar until 1 October to demolish their own homes.

Earlier this month Israel’s highest court gave final approval to destroy the West Bank village to make way for Israeli settlements.

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If the residents don’t comply, Israel is expected to send in its bulldozers any day. It is almost certain they will include machines made by British firm JCB, whose equipment has been used for years to demolish Palestinian property in the occupied West Bank.

Destruction of Khan al-Ahmar would be a war crime under international law, and JCB executives are being warned they could face criminal liability for their role.

Last July, JCB equipment was spotted in the Bedouin villages of Khan al-Ahmar and Abu Nuwwar near East Jerusalem.

British Palestine solidarity activists blocked the entrance to the JCB distribution center in Derby this month to protest the company’s involvement in the demolitions of Palestinian homes.

Half of the almost 200 residents of Khan al-Ahmar are children and teenagers.

JCB’s claim that it wants “to help build a better future for our children, where hard work and dedication are given their just reward” must taste bitter for these youth.

JCB and Khan al-Ahmar

On 4 July, BBC correspondent Tom Bateman tweeted a photo of Israeli forces using a JCB excavator to clear the way for the forcible evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar.

 London-based Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights immediately wrote to UK Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt urging the government to intervene and charging that JCB’s involvement in the pending demolition of Khan al-Ahmar “may amount to aiding and abetting a war crime.”

Labour Party lawmaker Paula Sherriff raised the issue in Parliament and Burt assured her that an investigation into the use of JCB machinery in the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar would be carried out.

But European governments have a history of prioritizing trade with Israel over respect for international law, and no history of imposing costs on Israel or on the companies that assist its violations.

European Union diplomats have limited their response to toothless statements and symbolic visits.

In August, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights also wrote to JCB asserting that “involvement in the demolition process of Khan al-Ahmar may amount to aiding and abetting the war crime of forcible transfer.”

JCB has not responded to an invitation from the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, a corporate accountability watchdog, to answer the allegations in the letter.

 

2 comments

  1. This is no war, this is GENOCIDE.

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