HSBC - Europe's largest bank - has announced that it has divested from Elbit Systems, an Israeli arms company which builds a wide range of weaponry used by the Israeli military and many other armies around the world. The announcement was made between Christmas and New Year, and comes after a sustained campaign by BDS activists against both companies. HSBC's branches were repeatedly targeted by campaigners in the United Kingdom.
Elbit Systems is Israel's second biggest arms manufacture, employing over 12,000 people with revenues of over $3.4bn. The company builds drones, military helicopters, signal intelligence systems, and communications systems, and has subsidiary companies around the world. Elbit has also supplied technology used on the border between Mexico and the USA. According to Corporate Watch, 85% of the drones used by the Israeli military are built by Elbit, and has received funding from the EU as part of the Horizon 2020 programme.
Ryvka Barnard, a campaigner at War on Want, said "HSBC has taken a positive first step in divesting from Elbit Systems, the notorious manufacturer of drones, chemical weapons, cluster bomb artillery systems, and other technology used in attacks against Palestinian civilians, and to militarise walls and borders around the world,' but pointed out that HSBC continues to invest in dozens of other companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.