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Victory for Palestine Solidarity Activists

According to Green Left Weekly, “Seven activists who blockaded the British distribution centre of Israel’s biggest state-owned agricultural export company Agrexco in November 2004 were acquitted of all charges on January 26. The activists had been charged with “aggravated trespass and failure to leave land” for their protest, which aimed to highlight Israeli apartheid and the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. According to Agrexco, it lost £100,000 as a result of the eight-hour blockade. ”

The protesters argued as a defense that they were acting to prevent crimes against international law, that are also offences in the UK under the International Criminal Court Act. In the end, the activists were acquitted because British Land Registry documents showed Agrexco (UK) had built entrance and exit gates on other people’s land and had no legal right to ask them to leave.

Agrexco is Israel’s largest importer of agricultural produce into the European Union, and it is 50% Israeli state owned. Amos Orr, Agrexco UK’s general manager, said in court that Agrexco imports between 60-70% of all produce that is grown on illegal settlements in the occupied territories. At the same time Israeli forces have blocked Palestinian exports on grounds of ‘security.’ Israeli state sponsored settlements have appropriated land and water resources by military force from Palestinian farmers in a deliberate policy of colonial settlement.

In a well planned operation, using wire fences and bicycle D-Locks the protesters succeeded in blockading the Agrexco (UK) distribution centre, blocking all motor vehicle traffic in and out of the building before being arrested. Before taking part in this action many of the defendants had witnessed first hand the suffering of Palestinian communities under the brutal Israeli occupation, having served as volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), documenting human rights abuses by the Occupation Forces in the West Bank and Gaza, and taking part in non-violent civil resistance to the occupation organised by Palestinian civilian committees.

The international campaign to boycott Israeli goods is growing across Europe. In December 2005 a whole region of Norway voted to cut economic relations with Israel. The US administration has threatened ‘serious political consequences’ against Norway if the boycott should develop into a national policy.