Photo report: Mobilisations in Palestine and Europe for boycott of Israeli agricultural companies
On February 9, Palestinian farmers organisations and campaigners in Europe weekend took action to call for an end to trade with Israeli agricultural export companies over their role in the destruction of Palestinian agriculture (press release here).
Palestinian farmers face the brunt of Israel’s land confiscations, demolitions and water theft. Farmers that still have access to land and water face systematically implemented restrictions and violence.
Israeli agricultural export companies such as Mehadrin and Hadiklaim are among the primary beneficiaries of the destruction of Palestinian agriculture, operating inside and exporting produce from illegal settlements using stolen Palestinian land and water and profiting from the siege on Gaza.
All of the main Palestinian farming organisations issued a statement urging international civil society to take action against Israeli agriculture companies. An accompanying briefing document details how the sale of Israeli fresh produce exports in European supermarkets directly contributes to violations of international law and human rights.
In Europe, many of the more than 40 protests that took place targeted Mehadrin, a large Israeli export company that supplies citrus fruits, dates and other fresh produce to supermarkets across Europe. The company operates in illegal Israeli settlements, is involved in the theft of Palestinian land and water and employs Palestinian workers forced to work in illegal settlements in unsafe conditions for as little as €11 per day.
On February 9, 300 farmers and activists in Gaza marched towards the buffer zone near the border with Israel to demand boycott of Israeli agriculture firms. A rally was held and olive trees were planted. A rally was held at Gaza Port on February 6. In the West Bank, activists planted Olive trees on the land of Madama village where illegal settlers have cut down hundreds of olive trees. A conference on boycotting Israeli agriculture firms was held in Salfit on February 11.
In France, activists occupied the customs office in southern French city Montpellier to protest the nearby port of Sète being used to import produce from Israeli companies such as Mehadrin that operate in illegal Israeli settlements. More than 50 campaigners occupied the offices for more than an hour. Protests were also held at supermarkets and other locations in more than 14 other French cities including Lyon, Lille, Marseille, Villefranche and Bagnolet.
In the UK, campaigners picketed more than 35 stores of major supermarket Sainsbury’s as part of a new campaign aimed at pressuring it to cut its ties with Mehadrin and EDOM, another Israeli company operating in settlements.
Participating cities included Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, York, Halifax, Bradford, Sheffield, Birmingham, Cambridge, Bristol, Portsmouth, Salisbury, West Surrey, Southampton, North Devon, Brighton, Cardiff, six London boroughs, and Hull. Read reports and view more photos here and here.
The UK’s fifth biggest supermarket The Co-Operative Group last year announced it would no longer source products from any supplier that operates in illegal settlements and cut ties to four Israeli companies following pressure from its members.
Dozens of activists took part in a large carnival procession through the centre of Brussels to call for a boycott of the fruit of the occupation.
Activists staged a protest against the fruits of Israeli apartheid at the Black Market in Beverwijk. The Oriental Market stocks an array of Israeli vegetables and fruit, many of which come from illegal settlements. In a death scene or "die-in" the activists showed the effects of Israeli violence. After a short speech the activists dispersed with flyers and signature lists among market stalls and shoppers. Security personnel and police soon ventured to stop the action, but the merchants themselves showed clear sympathy for the action.
Campaigners in Switzerland held a demonstration outside the offices of Mehadrin.
Activists in Berlin held a demonstration and handed out information outside Fruit Logistica, one of Europe's biggest fresh produce trade shows. Many of Israel's agricultural export companies including Mehadrin were present and seemed startled by the presence of activists highlighting their role in the destruction of Palestinian agriculture.
Actions also took place in Sweden, Luxembourg and Italy (photos and reports to follow).