Banking giant HSBC has announced plans to divest from a major Israeli arms manufacturer following pressure from pro-Palestine activists, the London-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) said in a Friday statement.
“After tireless campaigning by members of PSC and other organizations, HSBC bank has announced that it has fully divested from Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit,” the rights group said.
According to PSC, more than 24,000 people sent emails to HSBC voicing concern over its investment in Israel’s Elbit Systems and other firms known to supply weapons to Israel’s military.
Forty HSBC branches in different locations were picketed by activists for the same reason, the rights group said.
“This announcement is proof positive that collective campaigning works,” PSC Director Ben Jamal said in the statement.
“Hundreds of people around the U.K., including many PSC members and branches, were involved in pushing HSBC to divest from Elbit,” Jamal asserted.
He added: “HSBC’s announcement demonstrates the effectiveness of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as a tactic against Israel’s continued flouting of international law and human rights.”
One of Israel’s largest private weapons manufacturers, Elbit is known for selling “tested” weapons, i.e., weapons that have been “tested” on Palestinians.
Elbit is known particularly for its armed pilotless drone aircraft, which it markets abroad as “combat proven”.
The company has also manufactured white phosphorous and artillery systems that can be used to deploy internationally-banned cluster munitions.
Israeli media outlets have since confirmed HSBC’s divestment announcement.
“The bank has divested from Elbit, one of Israel’s largest defense companies and developers of some of the Israeli Air Force’s most advanced drones,” the Jerusalem Post quoted one unnamed HSBC source as saying.
According to the same source, the decision was “framed… as a human rights issue”.
HSBC, the source added, “strongly supports compliance with international principles of human rights as they apply to business”.
According to the Jerusalem Post, HSBC — the world’s seventh largest financial institution — has yet to announce when the divestiture will be carried out.