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Barclays banks smashed up across UK in coordinated attack

All the windows of the Barclays Bank branch in the centre of Bristol have been smashed and graffiti sprayed over them in a co-ordinated attack by a group targeting the bank. Palestine Action said its activists smashed the windows of the bank in Broadmead, along with Barclays branches right across the country, from Glasgow to Brighton. The group, which has been active in Bristol targeting the city???s arms industry???s links to Israel, said they took the action to demand that the bank ???divests from Israel???s weapons trade and fossil fuels???.. Bristol. June 10 2024.
A Barclays branch in Broadmead, Bristol, is one of several targeted on Monday (Picture: SWNS)

Activists have wrecked Barclays branches around the country in a coordinated protest over the Palestine conflict.

Sites in cities including Bristol, Mancheser, and Stockport were targeted overnight and early on Monday morning by members of Palestine Action, who smashed the branches’ glass fronts and sprayed red paint over them.

The group claims to have shut down 20 branches across England and Scotland, though the extent of damage was not immediately clear.

Activists in Edinburgh said they had pelted one branch with rocks ‘marked with the names of Palestinian martyrs’ as well as slogans like ‘child killers’ and ‘Barclays, murderers & proud’.

A branch in Bury, Manchester, was one of several to be severely damaged (Picture: SWNS)
A branch in Bury, Manchester, was one of several to be severely damaged (Picture: SWNS)
Alamy Live News. 2XB18KN Stockport, UK. 10 JUN, 2024. Direct action group target Stockport branch of Barclays bank on Bridge Street. The direct action group have targeted other branches in recent weeks and on this occasion smashed windows and sprayed the building with red paint. Credit Milo Chandler/Alamy Live News This is an Alamy Live News image and may not be part of your current Alamy deal . If you are unsure, please contact our sales team to check.
A branch in Stockport was found to have been wrecked in the early hours of the morning (Picture: Alamy)
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Martin Pope/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock (14532383x) A police forensic officer returns to the St Johns Wood branch of Barclays Bank to gather evidence after an overnight attack by activists. Palestine Action and Shut The System target 20 Barclays Bank branches throughout the UK, smashing their windows and spraying the outside of the branches with paint. Palestine action are targeting Barclays because of their investments in Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. Climate activists Shut The System are targeting Barclays over its fossil fuel investments. Palestine Action Target Barclays Bank Branches in London., England, Uk - 10 Jun 2024
A branch in St Johns Wood, London, had holes punched through its windows, which were covered in paint (Picture: ZUMA Press)

The stunt was carried out in partnership with Shut the System, a recently launched climate protest group.

Palestine Action accused Barclays of ‘funding genocide in Palestine’ by being ‘investors in Israel’s largest weapons firm, Elbit Systems’.

Barclays rejects the claims, saying it ‘does not directly invest’ in any weapons suppliers and that providing other financial services to them is ‘compatible’ with government guidelines.

Why is Barclays being targeted over ‘Israel links’?

Palestine Action’s website does not explain its accusations, which were made in a number of posts on X without further detail.

They appear to be inspired by calls led by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) to boycott Barclays over similar allegations.

The PSC published a report in May claiming that ‘holds over £2 billion in shares, and provides £6.1 billion in loans and underwriting’ to companies whose weapons are being used by Israel in attacks on Palestinians.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Martin Pope/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock (14532383i) A pedestrian passes the Moorgate branch of Barclays Bank, the exterior of which is left covered with red paint after activists target the branch overnight. Palestine Action and Shut The System target 20 Barclays Bank branches throughout the UK, smashing their windows and spraying the outside of the branches with paint. Palestine action are targeting Barclays because of their investments in Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. Climate activists Shut The System are targeting Barclays over its fossil fuel investments. Palestine Action Target Barclays Bank Branches in London., England, Uk - 10 Jun 2024
Barclays’ Moorgate branch in central London was also targeted (Picture: Zuma Press)

This research was carried out by Dutch sustainability consultants Profundo, who say the data was accessed using widely available finance databases.

Barclays responded to the claims in a statement to shareholders, saying the criticism ‘mistakes what we do’.

‘We trade in shares of listed companies in response to client instruction or demand and that may result in us holding shares.

‘We are not making investments for Barclays and Barclays is not a “shareholder” or “investor” in that sense in relation to these companies.’

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 10: The scene at Barclay's bank in Richmond after several branches were attacked overnight by supporters of Palestine Action over links to Elbit Systems and the Israeli military on June 10, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)
Barclays’ branch in Richmond, south-west London, was also closed after being defaced (Picture: Getty)

Barclays has said the claims may stem from its prior ownership (ended in 2009) of Barclays Global Investors, an asset management firm which ‘did have significant investment positions in defence companies’.

However its statement did not directly address the claims around its loans and underwriting business, which is separate from its role handling share trades for third-party clients.

These services amount to financing, not funding – a key distinction separating banks from ‘investors’.

But they would nonetheless raise revenue from any arms manufacturers who are clients, which is one of the reasons campaigners oppose such activities.

GAZA STRIP, GAZA - JUNE 09: Palestinians conduct a search and rescue operations among the rubbles after Israeli warplanes targeted the house of the El-Safi family in the Nuseirat refugee camp area in Gaza on June 09, 2024. Injuries and casualties were reported after the attack. (Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Campaigners claim Barclays is ‘bankrolling’ arms manufacturers (Picture: Anadolu)

A large part of Palestine Action’s activism is targeted at Elbit Systems, an Israel-based arms manufacturer with a site on the outskirts of Bristol which has been repeatedly vandalised.

The group claims Barclays is an ‘investor’ in Elbit Systems, but the bank says this is wrong for the same reasons outlined in its statement.

Elbit Systems insists ‘nothing from the [UK] site goes to the IDF’. Somerset Council recently withdrew claims that Elbit UK supplies the IDF as ‘factually incorrect’ and apologised.

Following Monday’s protests, spokesperson for Palestine Action said: ‘Barclays is funding the crises of climate collapse and genocide in Palestine.

‘Decades of polite campaigning, petitions, letter writing and lobbying MPs have failed.

epa11391015 Smoke rises during an Israeli military operation in Al Bureij refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, 05 June 2024. The Israeli military stated on 05 June that Israeli troops started a 'targeted operational activity' in the areas of Bureij and eastern Deir al Balah both 'above and below ground' in the area. More than 36,000 Palestinians and over 1,400 Israelis have been killed, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), since Hamas militants launched an attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip on 07 October 2023, and the Israeli operations in Gaza and the West Bank which followed it. EPA/MOHAMMED SABER
Several British arms manufacturers have been accused of supplying the IDF (Picture: EPA)

‘We will continue to escalate until Barclays pulls its finger out and stops funding genocide and climate destruction.’

A spokesperson for Barclays said: ‘We provide vital financial services to US, UK and European public companies that supply defence products to Nato and its allies. Barclays does not directly invest in these companies.

‘The defence sector is fundamental to our national security and the UK government has been clear that supporting defence companies is compatible with ESG considerations.

‘Decisions on the implementation of arms embargos to other nations are the job of respective elected governments.

‘While we support the right to protest, we ask that campaigners do so in a way which respects our customers, colleagues and property.’

This is a developing news story, more to follow soon… Check back shortly for further updates.

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