8th February 2009
At around 6:30 this morning a group of students from Brighton locked themselves to Carmel Agrexco, the Israeli state owned export company, to protest against their complicity in the illegal annexation of the West Bank and the repression of students in the Palestinian village of Jayyous.
Carmel Agrexco grows and imports agricultural produce (including fruit, vegetables and flowers) from illegal settlements in the West Bank which are then sold in supermarkets such as Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and many others. As such, companies such as Carmel Agrexco are responsible for the systematic annexation of Palestinian land.
In these settlements workers, including children, are known to work in slave-labor conditions, with low wages, inadequate access to food and water, and no contract. Furthermore, the settlements have not only stolen land, but use up much needed agricultural resources such as water.
This action has been done in response to a callout for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, after the events of 18th February and onwards in Jayyous. On this day, occupying Israeli Defence Force soldiers invaded the town of Jayyous, where regular protests have been held against the building of the apartheid wall, which will annex 5,585 dunums (558.5 hectares) of land from the town, much of which is to be used for the expansion of the illegal settlement, Zufim.
75 soldiers and 25 army jeeps invaded the town in the early hours of the morning, conducting house to house raids: throwing sound-bombs at houses before forcing families out at gunpoint and ransacking their houses. At least 75 people were arrested, the vast majority students, including the entire student Stop the Wall Committee. Those arrested were taken to a school that the army had turned into a detention centre. Most of the people were blindfolded and handcuffed and all were forced to sit in stress positions. They were not allowed to eat, drink or talk to each other as they were taken in for interrogation one by one. They were held for as much as 19 hours and 15 young men were taken to Huwarra military base on unknown charges. Bulldozers were then brought in which created blockades at the entrances to the town and the population were put under curfew for 18 hours.
Since then, the village has been invaded two further times, on the second time a half-day curfew was imposed on the town. Residents have also been threatened with home demolitions.
James Robinson, one of the protesters, said
The situation in Jayyous is demonstrative of the systematic human rights abuses perpetrated against the Palestinians for the expansion of the settlements which Carmel Agrexco supports and profits from.