Attacks on Barclays branch based on ‘mistaken’ view of bank’s Israel arms links

Bank attacked

Barclays bank has insisted that attacks on its branches and offices are based on a misunderstanding of its supposed support for the arms industry and Israel.

Up to 20 buildings have been covered in red paint and had windows smashed by supporters of the group Palestine Action which is demanding that the bank “divests from Israel’s weapons trade and fossil fuels”.

Protesters attacked Barclays branches in Bristol, Exeter, Sheffield, Northampton, Birmingham and Solihull.

In the North West branches in Stockport, Bury and Preston were damaged.

In February, the Manchester offices of BNY Mellon were attacked and the reception area “occupied” by protestors. 

In a statement Barclays insisted the protests were based on a mistaken understanding of what the bank does.

“We have been asked why we invest in nine defence companies supplying Israel, but this mistakes what we do. We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares. Whilst we provide financial services to these companies, we are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a ‘shareholder’ or ‘investor’ in that sense in relation to these companies.

“An associated claim is that we invest in Elbit, an Israeli defence manufacturer which also supplies the UK armed forces with equipment and training. For the reasons mentioned, it is not true that we have made a decision to invest in Elbit. We may hold shares in relation to client driven transactions, which is why we appear on the share register, but we are not investors. We note also that Elbit is highlighted because campaigners claim it makes cluster bombs. We would cease any relationship with any business where we saw evidence that it manufactures cluster bombs or components.”


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