JCB 'complicit' in Palestinian rights violations

1 June 2012 - 12:11pm
Press release

New Hamleys toy range sparks protest

Protestors will demonstrated outside Hamleys today (1 June), as the London store prepares to sell the latest toys range produced for the UK firm JCB, whose equipment, they say, has been used in Israel's crimes against Palestinian children and communities.

The protestors cite JCB bulldozers' use to demolish the only Palestinian children's playground in the district of Silwan inEast Jerusalemand JCB equipment's part in the construction of the illegalApartheid Wall, Israeli settlements and the demolition of Palestinian homes.

The charity War on Want wrote to JCB after the playground was demolished. But JCB has failed to respond to its request for the company to investigate the use of JCB equipment in Silwan and ensure that it will not be used in illegal demolitions. 

The demonstration comes as the charity War on Want launches a new report which exposes JCB's direct sale of military equipment for the Israeli army to abuse Palestinian human rights.According to the report, this shows JCB entering a new phase of complicity withIsrael's crimes against the Palestinian people.

The report reveals that the company has supplied its armoured bulldozer, the High Mobility Engineer Excavator, for use by paratroopers in the Israeli army's central command unit.  The armoured bulldozers are as tall as a double decker bus, weighing up to 16 tons and with a top speed of up to 60 miles an hour. 

Kat Hobbs, War on Want's Save Silwan campaigner, said: “JCB is trying to corner the kids' market with the My First JCB range of toys and clothes. Yet for Palestinian children, their first JCB experience is when a digger is destroying their home and playground. JCB needs to stop its bulldozers being used as weapons against the Palestinian people.”

War on Want's report also exposes JCB's close links to the most senior British government figures. Before taking up office in 2010, Foreign Secretary William Hague was paid £50,000 a year to act as a parliamentary advisor to the company.

British foreign office minister Alistair Burt has confirmed the government knew about claims that equipment manufactured by a UK construction equipment company “may have been used in demolitions”. But, despite branding the demolition of the playground “contrary toIsrael's obligations under international humanitarian law” the Foreign Office has taken no further action.

Over 1,000 Palestinians in Silwan face the threat of their homes being destroyed to make way for a theme park, in the largest mass demolition since 1967, the year Israel took control of east Jerusalem.

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • Film which shows the playground's destruction: http://www.waronwant.org/news/blog/video-jcb-equipment-destroys-childrens-playground-in-silwan.html
  • JCB children's toys, its best-known consumer products, are made under licence in Chinaby Golden Bear Toys. Its new range goes on sale this summer. In addition to children's toys and clothing. JCB itself produces adult garments and footwear, mobile phones, batteries, DIY hand and power tools, lawnmowers and gardening equipment, and vacuum cleaners. British retailers which sell JCB consumer products include The Early Learning Centre, Mothercare, John Lewis, Argos, Boots, B&Q, Halfords and Amazon.

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)20 7324 5054 or (+44) (0)7983 550728. pcollins@waronwant.org

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