Publish date20 Jun 2024 - 23:55
Story Code : 639881

Largest European companies reportedly arming Israel

Six of the world’s largest arms companies have sold weapons to Israel between 2019-2023, a new report has revealed.
Largest European companies reportedly arming Israel
A new report published by a group of 19 civil society organizations and trade unions has exposed the largest European financial institutions investing billions of euros in international arms producers that sell weapons to Israel.

Titled The Companies Arming Israel and Their Financiers, the report “reveals European financial institutions have provided 36.1 billion EUR in loans and underwritings, and hold 26 billion EUR in shares and bonds in companies selling weapons to Israel,” the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said in a statement on Thursday. The FIDH is one of the organizations involved in the exposé.

From 2019 to 2023, six of the world’s largest arms producers – Boeing, General Dynamics, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, RTX, and Rolls-Royce – have sold weapons or weapon systems to Israel, the statement said.

It mentioned that French bank BNP Paribas is by far the largest finance provider to companies that have sold weapons to Israel, having provided 5.7 billion EUR in loans and underwritings since 2021.

Other large investors identified by the report include the banks Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, Barclays and UBS, as well as the Norwegian government pension fund GFPG and the insurance company Allianz. It also mentioned banks such as the UK’s HSBC and Standard Chartered.

“According to international standards on business and human rights, financial institutions have a clear responsibility to ensure that they do not invest in companies that contribute to human rights violations”, said Gaëlle Dusepulchre, Deputy Director of FIDH’s Business, Human Rights & Environment Desk.

PAX, one of the report’s co-authors, pointed out in a previous report that all six arms companies identified in the report have been supplying weapons to states involved with violations of human rights or international humanitarian law, including to Israel.

The report stated that arms companies’ supply of weapons to Israel has been considered high-risk for years, as these weapons “have been used to enforce the occupation and related violations of international humanitarian law and of human rights law in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”

It said “the unprecedented attacks” on Gaza since October 7 2023 and the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) provisional measures order of January 26 2024 determining there is a plausible risk of genocide in Gaza “make it even more urgent for arms companies to stop their supplies to Israel and for financial institutions to stop financing companies that continue to supply arms to Israel.”

Deutsche Bank said it “has a set of requirements and guiding principles that we apply to our client and business selection processes.”

The bank also said it “does not conduct business with the military or security of countries considered to be in conflict,” and that to “further strengthen its governance,” it appointed a Human Rights Officer in 2023.

BNP Paribas said it was “fully aware that the defense and security sector is sensitive and carries very specific risks …”

It added, “At the same time, the group also recognizes the right of countries to defend

themselves and protect their national security.” Therefore, it “has put in place a strict policy that goes beyond legal requirements and defines additional criteria that must be met by defense and security companies.”

“This analysis includes human rights criteria,” it stated.

The report called on companies to “immediately end all arms sales to and from Israel” and “to  identify, prevent and/or stop any activity that contributes or risks to contribute to violations of international law and acts of genocide in Gaza.”

It called on financial institutions to “End all investments in and provision of finance to companies which are causing and contributing to harms in Gaza and which fail to immediately stop supplying arms to Israel.”

“As requested by the UN Human Rights Council in April 2024, cease the sale, transfer and diversion of arms, munitions and other military equipment to Israel,” the report appealed to states.

It also called on states to “Apply the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the EU Common Position in export licensing for military goods to the end of preventing weapons being used in violations of international (humanitarian) law.”

Earlier this week, the head of Oxfam UK described the British government’s approach to supplying arms to Israel as “intellectually and morally incoherent.”

“Whether you say they are components or whole weapons (being sold) is a moot point, because individual components collectively constitute these devices that are killing so many innocent people. The UK needs to stop selling these arms,” Halima Begum, Oxfam’s chief executive, said.

Organizations involved in the joint publication of the report include Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS); BankTrack; European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP); European Legal Support Center (ELSC); European Trade Union Network for Justice in Palestine (ETUN); Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA); and Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK.

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.
According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 37,431 Palestinians have been killed, and 85,653 wounded. Moreover, at least 11,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.
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