Monday, November 27, 2006

[UK] Block Aid

Activists Blockade Carmel-Agrexco's UK Headquarters for the Third Time

For the second time this year [previous action], Palestine Solidarity activists blockaded Israeli company Carmel Agrexco's UK headquarters in Hayes, Middlesex, in the early morning of 26 Nov 2006 [press release]. The action was part of an ongoing non-violent protest against recurrent breaches of human rights and international law in the occupied territories of Palestine and to highlight Agrexco's illegal activity in court.

The blockaders braved torrential rain for nearly 6 hours, completely stopping all deliveries to and from the depot. A structure was erected from metal fence panels, blocking Agrexco's main gate. Two activists were locked onto the company's vehicle access gate, inside the company grounds, while another two secured the second gate.

Once again, Agrexco made a decision not to prosecute the blocaders for fear of the negative publicity another court case could generate [see previous trial].

6 people completely blockaded all entrances to Carmel Agrexco's main UK distribution depot for the third time last Sunday. Over 10 people protesters were there to lend support.

Protesters erected a triangular barricade made of fence posts with 2 people d-locked inside on the largest gate. Another 2 protesters locked themselves to the second gate and 2 locked on to a traffic barrier inside the property. They were all locked on and in position in a matter of minutes, before Carmel's security could respond. It was clear that they had really beefed up security since last time however, as the guards were clearly labelled in shiny new fluoros.

Once in position the protesters had plenty of time to make themselves more comfortable before the police arrived half an hour later. One protester had enough time to unlock and relock in a better place, and support people were able to get forgotten food to those locked on inside the company's property.

Unfortunately shortly after everything had been set up it began to rain torrentially, and continued on and off for the rest of the day. Locked on people and supporters alike shivered in the cold. The cops helpfully told those locked-on they were likely to get struck by lightening in a feeble attempt to scare them into leaving.

One particularly thick yet unusually inquisitive copper wanted the know the meaning of apartheid. It was kindly explained to him by a patient blockader, however he didn't quite get how the Israeli-owned Carmel was guilty of this crime. Needless to say he received a long and detailed answer from protesters who were only too eager to educate. The police were also overheard talking about the 'last action here like this one 2 years ago', completely unaware that the last lock on was less than 3 months before.

Throughout the day arcticulated lorries queued up quite satisfyingly outside the gates. Employees climbed a ladder to get into the plant, only to have no work to do and around outside smoking and arguing with those outside.

For the second time, Carmel's management were reluctant to press charges, leaving the police struggling to justify their presence. Arriving on the scene too late two van loads of police cutting teams arrived just as the blockaders had decided to unlock. The police threatened to nick the about-to-unlock blockaders, but hadn't quite decided what for. They eventually settled on 'public nuisance' with an outside possibility of aggravated trespass.

However, without the company's aquiesence there was little outlet for their itchy arrest-crazed little mitts and everyone walked away scott-free.

The cops still had a few petty power-games up their sleeve though. They confiscated the protesters' banner muttering something unintelligible about 'criminal damage' (how a steel gate can be damaged by a canvas banner is dubious, although it's rumoured that anarchists are perfecting the technology...). Frustrated cops then stopped a van they suspected as being linked to the protest.

Finding a minor problem with the number of seats in the van they told her she would be breaking the law if she drove any further. The priorities of the cops were completely outrageous. Neither major breaches of international law, or locking-on propelled them to action, but give them a bit of minor traffic infraction and they're all over it like settlers over Palestine. Luckily for the rain-drenched anarchos a sympathetic driver was found who went out of his way to get people home.

Now is a good time to blockade Carmel Agrexco. You can perfect your blockading skills with minimal chance of getting nicked, and if you do you stand a chance of kick-starting a major investigation into Israel's crimes in Palestine.

Read: Text of letter to Carmel-Agrexco | Report on Carmel's involvement in the Jordan Valley | War on Want's report: Profiting from the Occupation | previous actions: 1 | 2

Links: Palestine Solidarity Campaign | The BIG Campaign | ISM London | ISM Palestine | ICAHD


Anonymous said...

I thought we had discussed some of this similar nonsense recently. What "Israel crimes in Palestine"?

Do you just think you are being fashionable writing this nonsense?

The arguments for the boycott of Israeli companies is pathetic.

Can you give one good reason why you would boycott Carmell and not say products from a UK farm?


Geoffrey Cohen said...

Indeed, it is an important thing to consider - Is boycotting Israeli goods an effective tactic?

Does it hit the government or the Israeli workers?

In the case of Agrexco, the focus is clearly on the illegal annexation of the Jordon Valley, and the growing of produce by an agri-business which is half-owned by the Israeli Govt. on land designated as Palestinian territory.

In supporting divestment from the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan Valley, it is not a punishment on all Israelis, many of whom oppose israel's actions in the territories, but rather it is a specific measure aimed at ending the occupation.

This type of action is not intended to inflict long-term problems on the Israeli populace, but is meant to highlight how the Israeli Govt and corporations invest in businesses operating on occupied (forcibly annexed) land and at the expense of Palestinian farmers, inhabitants and workers in the Jordan Valley.

This type of action does not discriminate against Israel, but discriminates against Occupation.

Since this sort of action targets the businesses directly, and not the entire people of Israel, it is considered one of the more effective ways of bringing pressure from below onto the government to end the occupation.