[Boycott - Israel Supporters]
Palestinian Flag Hoisted at Agrexco Carmel
imc-uk-features, Indymedia UK
18 July 2007
A Palestinian flag fluttered over the Agrexco Carmel depot in Hayes, Middlesex, for a few hours on the afternoon of Sunday 15th July. Activists entered the Israeli, 50% state-owned fresh produce importer's premises shortly after 1pm. The action formed part of an ongoing campaign against the company which is the major distributor for settlement produce. After replacing the Israeli and British flags, the activists entered the warehouse and conducted a brief inspection before some of the group D-locked themselves to a storage trailer.After disrupting business for about 3.5 hours, the group left voluntarily without any arrests.
Israeli flag replaced by Palestinian flag
The initial reaction of the depot staff was hostile, and activists were assaulted and threatened. Leaflets explaining the action were distributed to staff, and others were inserted into fruit boxes waiting to be loaded for orders. Tesco was noted to be amongst the supermarkets for whom orders had already been prepared. Police arrived at the depot about twenty minutes after the action began, and staff appeared to calm down after this.
The General Manager, Amos Orr was called out, and on his arrival he seemed most upset to see his staff group standing under the Palestinian and Anarcho-syndicalist flags. Staff had seemed unconcerned about the new flags prior to this, and one staff member is quoted as saying "I don't give a damn about this war crimes and anti-semitism nonsense!" By now staff should be fully aware that the actions are against the company's involvement in marketing settlement goods, and should realise that aggression is unnecessary and pointless.
Whilst it became obvious from a fairly early point that the company would once again decline to prosecute for aggravated tresspass, police seemed happy to expend resources by standing in as company security guards. Once demonstrators were told that they could stay as long as they liked, it was clear that there wasn't even civil trespass taking place. The police and Amos Orr then conspired to place protestors at risk by threatening to move the trailer to which they were D-locked. The cops who had been monitoring the trailer decided it was time to take a stroll, as a driver, and later Amos Orr, backed up the trailer ending up inches from one of those locked on. Others reminded the cops of their 'Duty of Care' and the officers returned to end the obvious breach of Health and Safety.
The reluctance of the company to involve itself with any charges of aggravated trespass follows on from the acquittal of activists on that charge following an action in November 2004, when the company was blockaded for over eight hours. The trial ended before the defence had an opportunity to present their case that dealing in settlement goods is not lawful business. Prior to that the company had been made to disclose information about the settlements with whom it trades. Police also discovered that the company did not hold licenses for all the produce in the warehouse on that day.
Since the campaign against Agrexco started, activists have fostered relationships with Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, which is a major centre of operation for Agrexco Carmel. In audio from the action, one protestor describes how he met 12 year old children who were working for a Carmel Agrexco producer for 30 shekels a day. There is little alternative employment available, but a number of the Palestinians he met stressed the importance of taking action against companies such as Carmel Agrexco. The group is determined to keep the company under pressure.
15 July 2007
At 1.10 p.m. this afternoon, human rights protesters occupied the depot of Israel import company Agrexco Carmel. Ten people went into the depot and replaced the company's flags, changing it's Israeli flag with a Palestinian flag and switching the Union Jack with a red and black flag.
"Carmel produce of Israel"
Agrexco Carmel are half-owned by Israel. Their produce is illegally produced in the occupied territories by Settlers. Agrexco Carmel is the main distributor of settlement produce.
The police arrived at 13.28 p.m. Five people have left voluntarily. There are reports that staff were quite violent. One person was hit on the back of the head, and another member of staff threatened to throw a mug at a protester.
Reports indicate that there are two people locked on inside the depot. Leaflets have been distributed among many of the pallets.
So far, there's just one cop car and two cops outside the depot
At around 1415 the police left the yard at the rear of the warehouse after telling the people locked to lorry trailer that the company intended to attach a lorry cab and tow it out of the premises with the protesters attached, they explained that they had no duty of care to people who they believed to be trespassers. Although Carmel workers did hook-up the trailer to a cab they never followed through on their threat to move it, and eventually the more senior police arrived and told them not to attempt anything so stupid.
Activists lock on to storage trucks
Lorry cab reverses towards a protester, missing his legs by only inches
Carmel Agrexco UK general manager, Amos Orr,at the wheel of the lorry cab
4 cops have arrived. The staff are all out at the front.
Managing director Amos Orr has arrived in a blue peugeot 407. He got out of his car to be greeted by the sight of a Palestinian flag flying from his depot. The Palestinian flag has since been taken down.
Police van arrives.
2 protesters are locked on to a trailer.
3 of them are inspecting Agrexco Carmel's illegally sourced produce from the Israeli Occupied Terrortries.
Inside the warehouse - plundered fruit, flowers, foilage and herbs
Plundered cherry tomatoes destined for TESCO
3 cop cars are now present.
A couple of people are standing at the gate with a banner which reads 'don't buy Israeli apartheid goods'.
Everyone has now left voluntarily.
There were no arrests.
Interview with Activists
[ To listen to audio need the Flash Player ]
PRESS RELEASE: Fortress Carmel Agrexco breached by Peace Activists
email@example.com , Indymedia UK
15 July 2007
This afternoon a group of Palestine solidarity protesters entered the main UK warehouse of Israeli company Carmel Agrexco in Uxbridge, Middlesex. Their action is part of the growing movement to boycott Israeli apartheid, which aims to end Israel’s breach of International law and abuse of human rights in the occupied territories of Palestine.
Nine protesters went inside the warehouse, handed leaflets to the workers to explain the reasons for their actions. Two have locked themselves to equipment with D locks. They asked to speak to workers about Carmel Agrexco’s support for ethnic cleansing and war crimes in Palestine, but were met with violence and aggression
Another group hoisted a Palestinian flag up the pole at the front of the depot to symbolically establish a Palestinian solidarity settlement on Carmel Agrexco's land. Their aim was to highlight the illegality of Israeli settlements that have been established throughout the West Bank on land stolen from Palestinians. This was particularly fitting, given that much of Carmel Agrexco’s fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs and other produce is grown and packed on these illegal Israeli settlements. Carmel Agrexco is thus complicit in war crimes under the International Criminal Court Act 2001 (ICC Act).
Carmel Agrexco is Israel’s largest importer of agricultural produce into the European Union and is 50% Israeli state owned. The warehouse is in Swallowfield Way,Hayes, Middlesex, at their main depot in the UK.
Many of the protesters have visited Palestine and witnessed at first hand the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli military occupation. They have seen land that has been claimed by illegal Israeli settlements, but was stolen from Palestinian families. They have visited villages where the whole community have been issued with demolition orders by the Israeli Army to make way for more illegal settlements.
The action today is part of three years of action against the company. Palestine solidarity protesters have taken part in five blockades of the premises, the first in November 2004.
Before the protest a legal warning letter was sent to Carmel Agrexco stating clearly why they are in breach of the law.
Today’s action aims to draw attention to this company’s complicity, in murder, theft and damage of occupied land, collective punishment, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, and other breaches of International Law.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org/tel.07726 923 075 for interviews/pictures
Photos of the last blockade of Carmel Agrexco http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/11/357149.html?c=on
Photos of the second blockade http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/08/349440.html
Text of letter sent to Carmel Agrexco by Palestine Solidarity Campaign http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/london/2006/08/347361.html
Report on Carmel's Involvement in the Jordan Valley: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/09/322537.html
Press release from previous trial (with links): http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/01/331851.html
War on Want's Report -"Profiting from the Occupation": http://www.waronwant.org/?lid=12671
Notes to Editors:
1. For comments please call
2. On 9th June 2005 a coalition of Palestinian Civil Society Organisations issued a 'Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it complies with International Law'. See http://www.stopthewall.org/downloads/pdf/BDSEnglish.pdf for the full statement and signatories.
3. Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights in 1967 in contravention of international law.
Since then Israel has moved over 380,000 settlers into these occupied territories in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention (article 49), the Hague Regulations and United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
Israel continues to build an illegal apartheid wall inside the West Bank despite the Advisory Ruling of the International Court of Justice in 2005 that the wall is illegal. Fifty five illegal Israeli settlements will be on the Israeli side of the wall separated from the West Bank.
Since 2000 Israel has demolished 664 Palestinian houses, in acts of collective punishment. These demolitions constitute a war crime. They have demolished a further 12,953 palestinian homes for 'miliary reasons' (often to expand Israeli settlements) and 1,214 because they were built 'without a permit'
4,058 Palestinians have been killed as a direct result of Israeli military actions during the current uprising which began in September 2000.
(Above statistics confirmed by Israeli Information Centre Btselem see www.btselem.org)
Contact email@example.com/tel. 07726 923 075 for interviews/pictures
Apartheid and Agrexco in the Jordan Valley
Lena Green, The Electronic Intifada
4 September 2005
JORDAN VALLEY, PALESTINE -- In Israel and the Occupied Territories the colour orange is symbolic of opposition to the Gaza 'disengagement'. It can be seen on banners; t-shirts; propaganda material; protesters storming the old city in Jerusalem or the young people with petitions gathering signatures in Israeli bus stations. Orange streamers are handed out at road junctions in Israel and attached to cars flying down the settler-only highways of the West Bank.
It therefore came as a surprise to hear that one of the orange streamers was seen attached to a tractor belonging to a Bedouin Palestinian living in the Jordan Valley. When questioned, the man replied, "If they are thrown out of Gaza, they will come here. They are dangerous. We don't want them here."
On the 25th of June 2005 an Israeli spokesperson announced a plan intended to increase the number of settlers in the Jordan Valley by 50 percent in one year. The cost of new housing units will be $13.5 million (U.S.) in the initial year, and will increase to $32.5 million in the following year. The plan focuses on the development of agriculture and tourism in the valley, with grants of up to $22 million available for agricultural development. Additional economic incentives and benefits will be offered to encourage potential immigrants, particularly newly married couples.
The plan has already started to emerge on the ground, as the silver arches of newly-constructed greenhouses materialise, shimmering in the August heat. Large areas of land have suddenly been surrounded by fences and declared 'Military Zones': the initial stage in the process of colonisation. And a new wave of evictions has begun.
The six or seven thousand settlers in the valley live in 36 different settlements that each claim large areas of land. They are subject to Israeli civil law whilst the Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law. Israel controls 95 percent of the land in the valley.
Most of the 50,000 Palestinians in the valley live in a state of absolute poverty. Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967 they have been systematically denied basic human rights, particularly access to water and housing. Thirteen Palestinian villages were declared 'legal' by Israel in 1967. They are visibly obvious, being the only Palestinian areas where most of the houses are made of anything more substantial than plastic, wood and a few sheets of scavenged metal. Outside of these areas concrete constructions are invariably destroyed.
Hundreds of bedouin families will be expulsed from the Jordan valley. (StoptheWall.org)
I drank tea with a Bedouin family in their 'house' in Fasayil, which was made of wood and plastic. The village is half legal and half illegal; a quick glance is enough to determine which area is which. As she spoke to us, the Grandmother of the family fluttered a piece of paper between her fingers. It was the military demolition order for their home, issued about a month before. Apparently, no dwelling is too humble to face the might of the military bulldozers and tanks, and the family was waiting for them to arrive. It was not the first time they had been evicted: In 1948 they were made refugees when the state of Israel was created. Last year they were evicted from a site about three kilometers away, to make way for new settlers. When I asked what would happen if their home was demolished, the woman replied that the Red Crescent would bring them tents to live in. "Where will you put them?" I asked. "Here. We have nowhere else to go".
The Israeli Occupation Forces demolished eleven houses in Jiftlik on the 22nd of June. Next to one of the remaining concrete buildings is a shack made of plastic. The men who built the concrete house live in the plastic one next door. They are afraid to move themselves and their things into the concrete house, anticipating that it too will soon be demolished. They recently moved out of their family house when one of their brothers got married. It consists of two rooms constructed from clay and wood, and ten people live there. As families expand they need more room to live in, but the space for the natural growth of the Palestinian population in the Jordan Valley is systematically denied.
Road 90, which extends the length of the valley parallel to the Jordan River, cuts between huge plantations of palm trees, grapes and banana trees, as well as greenhouses full of plants and vegetables for export. Such intensive agro-industry requires massive amounts of water, which is provided by wells four or five hundred meters deep. These are housed in cylindrical towers that sit on the foothills of the mountains separating the Jordan Valley from the rest of the West Bank. Underneath the towers it is often possible to see Palestinian communities living in their flimsy housing. They are denied access to the water above them, and have to take tractor carts to the nearest wells they are permitted to use, often a distance of more than 20 kilometers. The three cubic meters of water they collect with their portable tanks only lasts a few days and gets very hot under the relentless sun.
Near Jiftlik, we saw a young woman with a donkey slowly climbing the hill to the water tower above her home. She was on her way to 'steal' some water, a few gallons perhaps. It was midday, and the overwhelming heat reduced the likelihood of a guard being on duty near the tower.
I never imagined that water reserves could look threatening.
162 artesian wells in the Jordan Valley, established by the Jordanians during their period of control of the West Bank, are now dysfunctional. They have either been destroyed or they have dried up because of the deeper, settler's wells nearby. Zubeidat is a village of 1,600 people on an area of land just over ten acres. Their well became salty and polluted in 1984, because of the nearby settlements. Last year they were finally granted permission to build a new well. In the intervening years each family had to bring water from Jericho, a distance of about 25 kilometers, or steal it from the settlements. In 2004, five people in the valley were prosecuted for 'stealing' water. All of the Israeli plantations are surrounded by electric fences to prevent such activity.
Zubeidat still uses the old well for irrigating it's agricultural land, despite the poor quality water it extracts. In Jiftlik I saw (and smelt) farmland that was irrigated with sewage water from Nablus and one of it's adjacent settlements, Elon More.
The most obvious source of water in the valley is the Jordan River, but it is impossible to reach this because of the electric fence which extends from the Green Line in the North to beyond Jericho in the South. This fence annexes 500 square kilometers of land, once used by the Palestinians for agriculture. Amazingly, it is not marked on the maps produced by the UN.
The Palestinian population in the valley has little choice but to try to sustain their livelihoods by farming. I spent a surreal couple of hours sweltering in the heat of a wooden and plastic house, listening as a farmer told me about the time in the late 1980's when the export company took a huge quantity of agricultural produce from the Palestinian farmers and then claimed that the ship taking it to Europe had sunk. Not only did the Palestinians not get paid for their produce, but the company actually made the farmers pay for the boxes they were packed in and the stickers that announced their place of origin: Israel. I could not quite believe what I was hearing. How many farmers were effected? The entire valley.
The name of the company? Agrexco, which trades by the brand name of Carmel.
Agrexco is 50 percent owned by the Israeli state and all of the produce exported from the valley is packed by and sold through them. (Lena Green)
Carmel might be a name familiar to European and American consumers: their fresh fruit and vegetables are common in any supermarket. Perhaps people who pay attention to international freight know that Agrexco also make their own ships, including the state of the art "Carmel Ecofresh... a revolutionary design for cargo refrigeration". Agrexco is 50 percent owned by the Israeli state and all of the produce exported from the valley is packed by and sold through them. Palestinian farmers no longer attempt to export because their dealings with the company have been so catastrophic. Nor are they able to take their produce to other markets in Palestine, because it is impossible to get it through the Jordan Valley checkpoints. Entire vegetable crops have been left to rot in the ground or used to feed sheep and goats.
There was no chance of the Palestinian farmers seeking legal redress in the case of the sinking ship, or in other cases where Agrexco has behaved illegally in the valley. However, the company will find itself in a British court next week, and although they do not stand accused they will find themselves in the position of defending their activity.
In November last year a group of British activists blockaded the company's main distribution centre in Middlesex, UK, preventing tens of thousands of pounds worth of goods from reaching supermarket shelves and subsequently British kitchens. Seven people are facing charges of aggravated trespass: the prevention of lawful activity. They will argue that the company's activity is unlawful, being ancillary to the crime of apartheid, war crimes and crimes against humanity. This in addition to the fact that the goods Agrexco export from settlements in the West Bank are illegally sold as "Produce of Israel", thereby benefiting from the preferential terms of trade that Europe grants Israeli imports.
The difference between the luxurious life in the settlements and the absence of the bare necessities in the Palestinian communities of the Jordan Valley is far from accidental: the subjugation is meticulously planned and executed. It is blatant and brutal apartheid. But although it could be argued that this segregationist system is based on religion (nobody could claim that the citizens of Israel and its settlements are from a single ethnic or racial group), I believe we need to discard the framework of analysis that presents the Palestine/Israel conflict as one of Jews against Muslims, or Islam against the West. Instead we need to look at it as part of the global domination of the all-powerful force of capital and it's warriors, the transnational corporations. Indigenous people who live sustainably, primarily from their direct environment, are under attack all over the world.
The cost of a box of Carmel tomatoes, dates, flowers or grapes is unimaginably high. It is not paid for in coins by the person at a supermarket checkout in the UK, but in the suffering of the Palestinian people. The time for Western consumers to recognise their complicity in such suffering is long overdue. Seven people who stand accused at Uxbridge Magistrates Court on Wednesday will highlight the connection between the produce and the persecution, our pounds and other people's poverty.
You are invited to join them for a Palestinian breakfast.
Lena Green is a filmmaker and volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank. She is presently making a film about the impact of Israel settlements in the Jordon Valley on Palestinian villagers.
Invitation: Breakfast Against Trade With Israel
Join defendants at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court (Near Uxbridge Tube) for breakfast on the first day of their trial and support the campaign to sever military, economic, cultural and academic ties with Israel while the occupation continues.
Following the ruling of the International Court of Justice in the Hague that Israel's building of a wall on Palestinian land was illegal, activists from London and Brighton successfully blockaded the main Carmel-Agrexco depot in the UK. This prevented tens of thousands of pounds worth of agricultural produce from reaching its destination on British supermarket shelves.
Carmel is the main brand for Israeli agricultural exports and the company is 50 per cent owned by the Israeli state. It exports goods from settlements in the West Bank and Gaza in violation of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
The action at the depot led to the arrest of seven activists who had d-locked themselves across the gates and prevented access to lorries. They have all been charged with aggravated trespass: the prevention of lawful activity. Their defense will challenge the legality of Carmel-Agrexco's trade in the UK and is hoped to act as a springboard for the whole boycott campaign.
We invite you and your organisations to join us on the opening day of the trial, Wednesday, 7th September at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court, for a Palestinian breakfast in support of the defendants, in support of the boycott campaign and in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle to end the occupation. For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Corporate Complicity in the Ethnic Cleansing of the Jordan Valley
ISM Report (Tubas Region)
23 April 2006
I was convinced by a friend to take a trip to the Jordan Valley this week. This is my fourth trip to Palestine but I have never visited the region and have heard relatively little about it. This is symptomatic of the condition of the valley, it is largely forgotten by the international community and is rarely visited. This isolation serves the Israeli state’s aim of annexation and ethnic cleansing of the valley.
I travelled to the Jordan valley from Ramallah. Ramallah’s cosmopolitan atmosphere contrasts starkly to the rural isolation of the valley just 45 minutes away. The valley is impossible for most Palestinians to travel to. Only Palestinians who were born in and live in the valley have ID to travel through the checkpoint. Others must apply for a permit from the army local administration (DCO). One of my Palestinian travelling companions, a worker with a local NGO, was detained at the checkpoint at the entrance to the valley while soldiers checked her permit.
As we drove through the valley toward Al Jiftlik we saw neatly cultivated fields on either side of the road, thousands of Dunums of palm trees and commercial crops like tomatoes, peppers and herbs. Scores of greenhouses stretched along the road past the illegal settlement of Mekhora. Many of the greenhouses were neighbored by packing houses owned by Carmel Agrexco.
Carmel Agrexco profit from Israeli Apartheid
Carmel Agrexco (www.agrexco.com) is a 75% Israeli state owned company dealing with 70% of the exports of settler fresh produce from the West Bank. A majority of their goods come from the Jordan Valley. They are able to transport their produce from packing houses in the valley to European markets within 24 hours and have distribution depots in most countries in Europe. They distribute their produce to most major supermarket chains in the UK, but like the Jordan Valley their name is not widely known.
The price of a box of tomatoes bought from the Carmel Agrexco is the suffering of the Palestinian population of the Jordan Valley. From 1967 Israel has sought to establish settlements in the valley and deprive the Palestinians of access to the land. In 2006 6 400 settlers live in 13 illegal settlements in the valley and 52 000 Palestinians. 95% of the land is controlled by the settlers who also control 98% of the water. Palestinians live in 36 villages which are not permitted to expand. In the Israeli controlled areas the building of new structures is not permitted and repairs on existing structures are also forbidden. These building regulations are enforced by demolitions of structures which the IDF deem ‘illegal’.
Agriculture in the valley is being strangled by the expansion of settlements and by the fact that all Palestinian produce grown in the valley must go through Tayasir checkpoint to reach markets in the rest of Palestine. Farmers must pay middlemen to take their produce to the checkpoint, be subjected to humiliating searches by the IDF, transfer the goods to another vehicle on the other side of the checkpoint before driving it to the market. This whole process takes around eight hours or more and drives down profits for farmers making farming barely financially viable. The only other alternative is to work as an uncontracted, casual day labourer on one of the illegal settlements for, on average, 40-50 shekels a day on land stolen from Palestinians.
Carmel Agrexco gave disclosure in a UK court case to the effect that they have packing houses in the illegal Israeli settlements of Mekhora, Mehola, Argaman, Ro’I, Hamra, Gaddid and Bet Ha Arava in the Jordan Valley. These settlement are making a fortune out of the suffering of the local Palestinian population. An international campaign is needed to challenge Carmel Agrexco and show that the international community will not accept the ethnic cleansing of the Valley
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