BDS echoes prisoners appeal to boycott Israeli prison-industrial complex

Press release by BDS/

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) calls on people of conscience around the world to initiate and/or escalate boycott and divestment campaigns against the companies that are most complicit in these Israeli crimes, in response to an unprecedented appeal from Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. The appeal came in the context of an escalation in Israel’s repression against Palestinian political prisoners.Israel’s systematic use of torture, a crime against humanity under international law, as a policy against Palestinian prisoners, including child prisoners, has recently seen a sharp rise.

Israel, which remains one of few countries in the world that legalizes torture under circumstances deemed as “necessary,” has passed at the end of July a law allowing the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners who have resorted to hunger strikes as a last ditch attempt to achieve their basic rights and dignity.

The Israeli prison authorities’ attempt to implement the new force-feeding law against 31-year-old Palestinian lawyer and current administrative detainee, Muhammed Allan, has triggered wide Palestinian protests and international condemnation by the UN and numerous human rights organizations.

The BNC calls upon Palestinian and international human rights organization to document the names of Israeli political, military, intelligence and medical figures who are implicated in the systematic and decades-old policy of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian and other Arab prisoners, in order to bring them to trial at the International Criminal Court.

The national leadership of Palestinian prisoners sent a letter last week to the global BDS movement through the BNC asking for prioritizing the cause of the prisoners and intensifying BDS campaigning against Israeli and international corporations that are most complicit in the crimes committed by Israel against them. The letter read:

“The international [BDS] campaign that you are leading, and that is increasing in effectiveness and outreach day after day, constitutes today a wave of pressure on the [Israeli] occupation government and its institutions. It has become the most important carrier of the voice of the oppressed in the land of Palestine.”

In 2012, the BNC, along with many Palestinian human rights organizations, launched a large international BDS campaign against G4S, the British-Danish private security company that is deeply involved in Israel’s violations of prisoners’ rights and international law.

The boycott campaign has cost G4S many contracts around the world, including in the US, Ireland, Norway, South Africa, among others.

In 2014, the campaign resulted in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s divestment of all its stock in the company, estimated at more than $180. Around the same time, one of the largest protestant churches in the US, the United Methodist Church, also withdrew its investment from the company.

A large number of trade unions, organizations and student councils around the world have also announced their refusal to contract G4S until it ends its collusion in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.

Under this intense pressure from the BDS movement, G4S executives announced in June 2014, at their general shareholders meeting, their intention not to renew the company’s contract with the Israeli prison authority when it lapses in 2017. The decision was confirmed in the shareholders’ meeting this year.

The BDS movement considered the company’s decision an insufficient first step in the right direction. Accordingly, it called for an escalation in the boycott campaign against G4S to compel it to immediately cancel all its contracts with Israel that violate international law and human rights.

Today, with the bloody escalation of Israel’s repressive and criminal measures against Palestinian prisoners, the BNC calls for intensifying boycott and divestment campaigns against the following corporations that are most deeply involved in Israel’s violations of our prisoners’ rights:

1. G4S: provides protection and security systems to the following Israeli prisons and detention centers: Ketziot, Megiddo, Damoun, Ofer, Russian Compound, Abu Kabir and Jalamah.

2. HP: provides electronic equipment and hardware maintenance services to the Israeli prison authority.

3. Volvo, which owns 26% of Merkavim, provides buses used in transferring prisoners. Torture and ill-treatment of prisoners is rife during these transfers.

4. Siemens: provides security and fire-extinguishing systems to Israeli prisons, including Gilboa.

5. Ashtrom: responsible for building Hasharon prison (where female Palestinian prisoners are detained). It also provided pre-fabricated units for Ofer and Ramon prisons.

6. Shamrad: provides security devices for Ramla, Beersheba, Ayalon, Ketziot and Hasharon prisons.