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[Boycott - Israel Supporters]

Protesters Blockade Israeli State Owned Company Carmel Agrexco


thwallmustfall@riseup.net (Indymedia UK)
11 February 2008

11 February 2008


From around 3pm today Palestine solidarity demonstrators have today been blockading Carmel Agrexco's U.K headquarters in Swallowfield Way, Hayes, Middlesex to highlight the company’s human rights record in occupied Palestine.

Protesters were met with violent assaults by Agrexco security guards who smashed a video camera.

Two protesters are currently under detained by police under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act

A group of demonstrators have locked to the gates (used arm tubes and super glue) to prevent lorries from high street companies such as Sainsbury's and Tesco's from entering the premises to load up on flowers and vegetables grown in occupied palestine. Carmel is the largest importer of fruit, vegetables and flowers from the West Bank, Palestine. It is believed that they are in breach of the International Criminal Court Act 2001.

The protest is part of a week of action against Carmel called for by the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign ( http://www.bigcampaign.org) against the import of Valentines' Day flowers from Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. The run up to Valentines day is one of the busiest periods of the year for the company. Within the last week there has been a blockade of a Carmel depot in Belgium and local actions occurring around Britain to coincide with the week of action.

Today’s blockade 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.



"Carmel produce of Israel"

Notes For Journalists

Carmel is complicit in war crimes under the International Criminal Court Act 2001 (ICC Act). They import fresh produce originating from illegal Israeli settlements in
the Occupied Territories.

The purpose of the protest is to highlight Agrexco's illegal activity in court.

The action follows a legal warning letter to Carmel stating clearly why they are in breach of the law.

The action took place at Agrexco UK, Swallowfield Way, Hayes, Middlesex, Israel’s largest importer of agricultural produce into the European Union. It is 50% Israeli State owned.

Before taking part in the blockade, many of the protesters had witnessed first hand the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli military occupation.

This follows from actions of 11th November 2004, when Palestine-Solidarity protesters from London and Brighton were arrested after taking part in non-violent blockades outside the same company and 30 August 2006, When demonstrators blockaded the company for 11 hours and no arrests were made.

In September 2005, a Judge ruled that Agrexco (UK) must prove that their business is lawful. The acquittal of the seven activists before they were able to present their
defence meant that the court did not have to rule on the legality of Agrexco-Carmel’s involvement in the supply of produce from illegal settlements in the occupied territories.

In September 2006 protesters blockaded the company again, Carmel refused to have demonstrators arrested because this would have lead to another embarrassing court appearance where theirbusiness methods would have been investigated by a Britishcourt of law.



Letter sent to Amos Orr
Manager of Carmel Agrexco, Hayes

This is to inform you that your business is not lawful.

The business carried out at Agrexco, Swallowfield Way, Middlesex cannot be defined as lawful business as your supply of produce from illegally occupied territories makes you ancillary to Apartheid and other Crimes Against Humanity under the International Criminal Court Act 2001 (Hereafter the Act).

Crimes under the International Criminal Court Act are criminal offences under English law.

Your company has disclosed that you export fresh produce from several illegal Israeli-Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley, West Bank, Palestine. For example, your company deals with Mehola settlement in the central Jordan Valley.

The Jordan Valley is part of the West Bank, a Palestinian territory, that was illegally invaded by force and occupied during 1967. From 1968 Israel began colonising the valley and transferring its civilian population into illegal settlements there.

The transfer of a civilian population into occupied territory is a War Crime under the Act and is a crime under English Law. It is a crime under English Law to be ancillary to (or complicit in/accessory to) a War Crime.

Agrexco has had a packing house at Mehola settlement for a considerable period of time and has, by providing financial support through trade, to the illegal settlers living there, facilitated the subsistence and growth of Mehola settlement.

Settlement growth in the Jordan Valley has lead to the forceful expropriation of at least 95% of the land in the valley. This is land that was previously owned by the indigenous Palestinian population. The theft and cultivation, achieved through state violence and the threat of violence, of this land is a War Crime under the Act and it is a crime under English Law to be ancillary to it.

The building of settlements and settlement infrastructure in the valley has lead to damage being caused to Palestinian Civilian objects and territory. This damage has included the building, on occupied territory, of a wall along the length of the Jordan River and the building of a series of checkpoints, such as those at Al-Hamra and Al-Tayasir. It is a War Crime under the act for an occupier to damage civilian property.

In establishing the threat of violence in the Jordan Valley, to allow the construction of settlements like Mehola, the Israeli army has been guilty of Murder, a War Crime under the Act.

The situation established in the Jordan Valley can be correctly characterised as Apartheid. The minority settler population controls 98% of the land and a majority of the water in the Valley. The majority Palestinian population are marginalized on the land and are subject to a system of Israeli military law whereas the civilian settler population are subject to Israeli Criminal Law.

Settlement expansion is facilitated by a state policy of Ethnic Cleansing against the Palestinian Civilian Population. Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley must apply for permits to live in the valley from the Israeli military. The military has engineered a situation where residents increasingly lose their permits and have to leave the valley. This is coupled with a ban on new building in the valley, resulting in the majority of the Palestinian population, in some areas, living in tents. This restriction on building is enforced by house demolitions by the military of any new Palestinian structures. Ethnic Cleansing is a War Crime under the Act.

The above situation has been engineered by the state to allow the cultivation of land in the Jordan Valley, the most fertile area in the West Bank. Agrexco, a partly state owned company, has directly benefited from, and facilitated this situation:

Agrexco, of Swallowfield Way, Middlesex are ancillary to

  • Murder
  • Theft and Damage of Occupied Land
  • Collective Punishment
  • Apartheid
  • Ethnic Cleansing

Which is a Criminal, Arrestable offence under English Law

Therefore Agrexco's business cannot be considered legal


Palestine Solidarity Campaign
www.palestinecampaign.org

Source: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/london/2006/08/347361.html

Links:

  • Photos of the last blockade
    http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/08/349440.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


Press contact:

07986 764432

07745 817822

thewallmustfall@riseup.net


Source: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/02/391108.html


Further report, photos & discussion


Photos by Brett Cohen
14 February 2008


12/02/08 Brighton and London Palestine Solidarity demonstrators blockade Camel Agrexcos main UK headquarters in Hayes, Middlesex but run into the violent workforce first.
























Discussion


True Courage!>

Well Done, its courageous activists like yourselves who take part in direct action against oppression that will ultimately help bring about change.

I am worried for the two brave souls who were detained under the terrorism act - any news of them?

I am shocked to hear a lady was attacked by three men and her camera smashed - have the police arrested the culprits?

Police are useless>

The police did not arrive until the confrontation with the workers had died down. They ignored protesters when told that there was video footage of one protester getting kicked on the ground.

The two held under the terrorism act were quickly released after being searched.

The police again refused to listen when informed of the incident with the camera (which is now in pieces), which had footage of many being assaulted. The police took no action to find out why people were hurt and were not interested in arresting anyone from Carmel.

terrorism act>

The two brave souls detained and searched under s44 terrorism act were released shortly after- just like 99% of the tens of thousands of people who have been imposed upon with the same law since it came into force .

New stop and search powers are coming soon that will allow police to do this under PACE without any reason or form filling afterwards, and thus no evidence that it even happened-and thus no recourse to complain if it was obvious harassment by police.


Source: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/02/391355.html


Article from last years (2007) action :

UK protesters try to hurt Israeli flower sales


Ellis Weintraub and Laura Rheinheimer, The Jerusalem Post
13 February 2007


To hurt the high-volume sales of Israeli flowers on Valentine's Day in the United Kingdom, three anti-Israel protesters chained themselves to a fence over the weekend outside the distribution site of Carmel-Agrexco in Middlesex. Police arrested them.

Valentine's Day should bring in NIS 11.5 million in sales. This amounts to 10 percent of the NIS 115m. Israel expects to export to England this year.

Abraham Daniel, director of the Flower Growers' Association in Israel


The UK-based Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign launched the protest on Saturday as part of a five-day campaign against the sale of Israeli flowers.

According to Abraham Daniel, director of the Flower Growers' Association in Israel, Valentine's Day should bring in NIS 11.5 million in sales. This amounts to 10 percent of the NIS 115m. Israel expects to export to England this year.

The boycott group hopes to diminish these sales, according to group spokesman Tom Hayes. They aim to damage Carmel-Agrexco's reputation, negatively impact profits and lobby supermarkets to not sell Israeli flowers, he said.

No stores have agreed to the boycott yet, Hayes told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview. But his group remained in contact with several stores, he added.

Saturday afternoon, some 90 demonstrators blocked trucks from leaving Carmel-Agrexco's Middlesex site. According to Amos Or, Agrexco-UK's general manager, the protest lasted from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and caused a 30-minute delay.

"It's a small, noisy group, but the police were well prepared," he told the Post. Most of the trucks carried Coral strawberries grown by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, he added.

But according to Hayes, the protesters stopped operations for the whole afternoon. His said his group opposed all Israeli companies, but had specifically targeted those with farms in the Jordan Valley, believing they exploit cheap Palestinian labor. He said Palestinians could not develop their own farms in the area because of security checkpoints.

Hayes said his group did not distinguish between flowers grown in the Jordan Valley with those grown elsewhere in Israel.

"We are the Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign, so we are against all Israeli flowers," he said.

Hayes said his group was against Agrexco for several reasons: It is partially owned by the Israeli government, it operates farms on settlements in the Jordan Valley "at the Palestinians' expense," and it "profits from the apartheid."

He said he based his information on a recent visit to Israel in which he met with workers in the Jordan Valley.

Daniel said only 1%-2% of the flowers grown in the Jordan Valley were exported.

"Most of the flowers from the Jordan Valley are sold in local markets," he said.

Jordan Valley Regional Council head Dubi Tal said although Palestinians needed permission to enter the area, they were free to work wherever they want. There were "no complaints from outside [organizations] or the Palestinian side," he said. Palestinians were free to establish farms in the valley, he added.

According to B'Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli, only Palestinians who are prepared to work on a settlement in the Jordan Valley or those who live there may enter the area.

Michaeli said Palestinians from outside the Jordan Valley sometimes encountered problems accessing land they own in the region.

According Atzmon Meltzer, the general manager of a flower distributor called Aviv, the Jordan Valley exports only 5% of Israel's total flower exports. Israel grows most of its flowers in the Arava, around Beersheba, the North and the Jezreel Valley, he said. Aviv and a European company hope to buy Agrexco from the government, he added.

Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1170359844307 Source Snapshot



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