Palestine Solidary Campaign to target Bedford’s Barclays bank with High Street protest

Protesters calling for a Gaza ceasefire marched from Bedford Park to Castle Mound on 2 March 2024. Image: Tony Burke
Protesters calling for a Gaza ceasefire marched from Bedford Park to Castle Mound on 2 March 2024. Image: Tony Burke

Bedford Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) say they’ll be demonstrating outside Barclays in Bedford High Street this weekend to highlight the role they say the bank is playing in arming Israel. 

Financial institutions in the UK provide investment, loans, and other financial services to companies supplying Israel with weapons and military technology.

The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign say Barclays Bank holds over £1 billion in shares, and provides over £3 billion in loans and underwriting to nine companies whose weapons, components, and military technology have been used in Israel’s war against Hamas.

At the end of February, the BBC reported that more than 30,000 Palestinians had been killed in Gaza since 7 October, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

That number equates to about 1.3% of the 2.3 million population of the territory.

The ministry says that the majority of those killed were women and children but its figures do not differentiate between civilians and fighters when identifying those killed.

The Bedford PSC will be protesting at 11:30am on Saturday, 23 March.

Bedford PSC Chair Rosie Newbigging said: “We urge all fellow Bedfordians who are horrified by what is happening to innocent people in Gaza, to join us. 

Similar protests have taken place at Barclays branches across the county over the last few months. Speaking to The Telegraph in January, the bank defended offering banking services to firms in the defence and weapons industry.

“Barclays is committed to respecting human rights as defined by the International Bill of Human Rights and takes account of other internationally accepted human rights standards and frameworks,” said a Barclays spokesperson.

“We have a published statement on defence and security which sets out our policy positions and governs any business activities in the defence and security sector, including setting restrictions on certain financing activities and requiring enhanced due diligence as appropriate on clients in the sector.

“As a universal bank, Barclays provides a range of client services in relation to the shares of publicly listed companies, including those in the defence and security sector.

“Such client-driven activities may result in Barclays holding shares in those companies, for example, through hedging positions, market making, custody and underwriting activity.

“Barclays does not itself intend to make any direct strategic equity investments in the defence and security sector.”

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