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].
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
Carmel-Agrexco in Hayes is the main UK depot of Israel's 50% state-owned export company. Agrexco is responsible for exporting the majority of fruit and veg from illegal settlements in the West Bank to the UK. The UK is a large part of the market for settlement produce, making up 60% of Agrexco's total exports.
Agrexco profit from Israel's illegal occupation and entrenched system of racial apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories. In the Jordan Valley, in the occupied West Bank, Agrexco farm on stolen Palestinian land while Palestinian’s work for them for less than a living wage. Carmel-Agrexco can deliver fruit and veg to Europe in 24 hours while Palestinian farmers produce rots in the fields because the farmers can’t bring it through illegal Israeli military checkpoints.
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
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
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.
Carmel 365 anyone?