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Bill Gates sells shares in security firm G4S

Reports that Bill Gates has sold shares in security firm G4S have been welcomed by pro-Palestine activists
G4S has been accused of breaking international law through security operations in the West Bank and Israel (Flikr/Aimmee Valinski)

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and the richest man in the world, has lowered his investment in the security company G4S to below 3 percent, UK newspaper the Telegraph reported on 29 May. In recent months, the firm has been criticised by pro-Palestine groups for its involvement in security operations in the West Bank and Israel.

In June 2013, it was reported that Gates had bought a 3.1 percent stake in G4S valued at £110mn ($184mn) through both his Cascade Investment group and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The website of the British-Danish private security company boasts that it is “the world’s leading international security solution group”, adding that it has an active presence in more than 120 countries around the world and a staff of more than 618,000.

G4S provides security services to Israeli prisons, as well as materials and equipment for the checkpoints, for the separation wall as well as to the Israeli police.

Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner support and advocacy organisation, has welcomed the move.

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"More than 125 Palestinian prisoners remain on hunger strike after more than 35 days to protest their detention without trial," wrote Gavan Kelly, advocacy director. “It's clear that G4S' involvement in Israel's prison system is incompatible with the Gates Foundation's stated commitment to human rights and equality."

G4S boss Ashley Almanza said at a shareholders meeting last June that his firm is not in breach of international law by working in Israel.

"We believe this [Israeli prison service] contract has not breached international law and we will continue to keep these matters under review," he said. "If we were making five times as much money in Israel, our judgement wouldn't be any different."

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