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Protesters Blockade Israeli State Owned Company

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11 February 2007

From around 3pm today Palestine solidarity demonstrators have 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 were detained by police and searched under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act before being released.

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.

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 their business methods would have been investigated by a British court of law.

Links:

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

Text of letter sent to Carmel Agrexco
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/london/2006/08/347361.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