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‘Thousands in UK close Barclays accounts’ over bank’s ties to Israeli military suppliers

LONDON: Thousands of people in the UK have closed their Barclays bank accounts over the financial institution’s links to the Israeli military, an activist group said.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has organized two “mass account closure days” in an attempt to pressure the bank into cutting its financial ties with arms companies that supply the Israeli armed forces.

The group said more than 1,500 people took part in the first day of action, on Feb. 9, and during the second, on March 20, more than 1,000 people were expected to close their accounts.

Thousands more have “signed a pledge never to bank with Barclays while it remains complicit with Israel’s apartheid system,” the group added.

It said research shows deep financial ties between Barclays, one of the UK’s biggest banks, and major arms companies that supply the Israeli military. Barclays holds “more than £1 billion ($1.27 billion) in shares and provides over £3 billion in loans and underwriting to nine companies whose weapons, components and military technology are being used by Israel,” the campaign added.

Those arms companies include General Dynamics and Elbit Systems, both of which supplied munitions and weapons systems Israel has used in its operations during the war in Gaza, campaigners say. By providing financial services to such companies, Barclays is facilitating a military campaign the International Court of Justice has said could plausibly amount to genocide, they add.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign vowed to take further action to put pressure on the bank to distance itself from such businesses, including “social media campaigns, pickets and sit-ins.”

The group’s director, Ben Jamal, said: “More than 31,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, in what the ICJ has accepted is a plausible case of genocide. UN experts have warned that Gaza is facing imminent famine due to Israel’s blockade and attacks.

“To its eternal shame, Barclays is complicit, financing the companies that supply Israel with the weapons and military technology it uses to carry out its attacks.

“Barclays was forced to stop supporting apartheid in South Africa before, and we’ll force it to stop supporting Israel’s genocide and apartheid now.”

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