Almost immediately after the military occupation of the Palestine’s West Bank in 1967, the Israeli government started setting up camp in the occupied territories. Since then the Jewish state has profited a lot from its rule — and they aren’t the only ones to do so.
From the start, private businesses have been involved in these settlements, benefiting and contributing to the Israeli government. Palestinians become inadvertent targets of abuse as companies displace them to claim lands for business. These corporations in turn pay taxes to Israel and exploit the Palestinians for forced, cheap labor. Due to the lack of opportunities available in the besieged territories, the natives have no choice but to bend to the whims of international corporations. Furthermore, Israel is in favor of giving work permits to international businesses while refusing operations to Palestinian companies in their own homeland.
A report by Human Rights Watch claimed that aside from commercial centers inside settlements, “There are approximately 20 Israeli-administered industrial zones in the West Bank covering about 1,365 hectares, and Israeli settlers oversee the cultivation of 9,300 hectares of agricultural land.”
The Israeli settlements in the West Bank have continued to violate the Fourth Geneva Convention which stipulates the prohibition of placing its citizens in the occupied territories or displacing the locals outside of the zone.
Giant companies like Coca-Cola have been operating in illegal land for years. Central Bottling Company, the Israeli franchise of Coke holds its regional distribution center in Atarot, an illegal settlement. The center distributes the company’s products to East Jerusalem’s Palestinians while its Palestinian franchise, National Beverage Company, is excluded from the East Jerusalem market to make way for the Israeli franchise to flourish there. Other CBC subsidiaries are also present in illegally occupied land.
In the wake of the 2014 shelling of Gaza Strip, the company underwent a worldwide boycott as the Twitter hashtag #NotInMyFridge trended in the United Kingdom. A couple of days later, Coca-Cola announced its plan to open its first plant in Gaza.
Coke is not the only company to endorse such abuse. Companies like Hewlitt-Packard profit from the daily degradation of Palestinian locals who have to undergo stricter security screening at checkpoints and in prisons. The tech giant is also one of the top defense contractors by Pentagon.
Motorola supplies surveillance equipment used in settlements and in Israel’s separation wall and it was announced that the company signed a contract with the Israeli Defense Force for the purchase of its first military smartphone.
Many employers of such companies have resigned in protest of the exploitation dished out in the name of profit. However, it seems to have made no impression on these corporations which continue to run as usual.