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War on Gaza: Barclays has 'increased' Israel arms trade investments

Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign Against the Arms Trade and War on Want find that UK bank has upped Israel-linked weapons investments
Israeli flags are reflected in the windows of Barclays Bank in London, on 20 April 2024 (Reuters/Hollie Adams)

Barclays has increased its investments in companies involved in supplying arms and military technology to Israel, according to an investigation carried out by a collective of activist groups. 

According to findings published jointly by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and War on Want, the British multinational bank is ramping up its investments despite pressure to divest from holdings linked to the Israeli arms trade.

The campaigners say Barclays has £2bn ($2.48bn) in shares in companies that produce weapons and military technology used by the Israeli army in its attacks on Palestinians.

Another £6.1bn ($7.66bn) has been made available to companies involved in the arms trade to Israel in loans and underwritings, according to the report.

Researchers said the figures amounted to a 55 percent increase in shareholdings since 2022 and a 54.5 percent increase in loans and underwritings since the same year.

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The list of firms in which Barclays is reported to have a financial interest in includes the Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems, and General Dynamics, a US arms firm that produces components for warplanes. Others include BAE Systems and Raytheon.

The report comes ahead of the bank’s annual general meeting on 9 May in Glasgow.

Barclays, which is one of the UK’s largest banks, with a presence across the globe, is facing calls for a boycott over its ties to the arms trade with Israel.

In the last fortnight, half the bands and musical artists scheduled to play the Brighton-based Great Escape have demanded the festival drop its sponsorship with Barclays.

Boycott calls have grown as Israel's war on Gaza, which has so far killed at least 34,500 Palestinians, the vast majority of them women and children, has continued.

‘Synonymous with apartheid’

Israel currently faces charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for its military campaign, after South Africa filed a case in late December

“Barclays is bankrolling Israel’s assault on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It is shamefully profiting from and complicit in a genocide,” Ben Jamal, director of PSC, said.

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“Rather than heeding voices of conscience, which includes thousands of former customers, it seeks to make more money from the misery, pain and death of Palestinians,” he said. 

Emily Apple, of CAAT, said the report would add momentum to the campaign to boycott the bank.

“This new report makes our joint Boycott Barclays campaign more important than ever and should act as a catalyst for even more people to close their accounts,” she said.

War on Want’s executive director Asad Rehman drew comparisons between the bank's conduct during the apartheid era in South Africa and its investments today.

“Barclays is synonymous with apartheid for having shamefully propped up and profited from systemised racial discrimination in South Africa and it does the same with Israel, bankrolling systematic, militarised discriminatory violence against Palestinians,” Rehman said.

Middle East Eye has reached out to Barclays for comment.

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