A British court has found 4 activists not guity of ‘aggravated trespass’ for an action in which they shut down a store selling Israeli dead sea beauty products. The court ruled that the company in question, Ahava Beauty, was engaged in illegal activity by selling the products in violation of international law.The case sets an interesting precedent for campaigners of the worldwide Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions campaign, which aims to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and discriminatory practices by Israel which they call ‘apartheid’ and compare to the former South African regime.
The four activists rolled barrels inside the Ahava Beauty products store in two separate actions in September and December 2009, locking their arms inside the barrels and forcing the store to close while police came to cut open the barrels and arrest the activists.
According to the British boycott campaign, “Every other weekend there is a small demonstration held outside Ahava, an Israeli-owned beauty and cosmetic store in London’s trendy Covent Garden. It is held to protest against the sale of beauty products which are made in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied West Bank and made with mud taken from the Dead Sea near Kaliya. This happens without the permission of, or compensation for, the Palestinians to whom the land truly belongs.”
According to the Dead Sea agreement, Israel and the Palestinian Authority should both have access to the Dead Sea. But Israel has complete control over the Dead Sea (despite the fact that it borders the West Bank), and have prevented the Palestinian people from accessing the sea or selling Dead Sea products. The Ahava Dead Sea beauty products are taken from the Dead Sea on the Palestinian side of the border, and in this way the company violates international law and signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
And the British Government’s own DEFRA guidelines from 2009 state, ‘the government considers that traders would be misleading consumers, and would therefore almost certainly be committing an offence, if they were to declare produce from the [Occupied Palestinian Territories] (including from the West Bank) as ‘Produce of Israel…’ This is because the area does not fall within the internationally recognised borders of the state of Israel.’
The Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions campaign declared the court ruling a victory, and vowed to continue their campaign against Ahava, using this ruling as a precedent.