British-based global security firm G4S announced it was selling its business in Israel. It said it was doing so for “commercial reasons” and not because of a boycott movement against Israel.
While announcing its 2015 results Wednesday, G4S said it was selling its business interests in Israel as part of a portfolio review that will see the sale of some 60 other businesses as well.
The company has been the target of a years-long campaign by activists calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. G4S employs 8,000 people in Israel.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign claimed G4S’s pullout was a result of its pressure on the company.
However, G4S spokesman Nigel Fairbrass on Thursday said the decision to sell its business in Israel was “entirely” for commercial reasons.
One of the largest security firms in the world, the London-based G4S provides screening and other services to a number of Israeli organizations, including CCTV cameras installed in Tel Aviv, screening equipment used in the prison system, and security for courts.
The company’s dealings with Israel, especially over the Green Line, have prompted a number of government and educational bodies to boycott G4S in recent years.
In 2013, the company announced it would partially divest from Israel in response to tension over its West Bank operations.
Citing its own ethics policy, G4S said it would let expire contracts to provide screening equipment at the Ofer Military prison near Ramallah, at West Bank checkpoints and at a police station in the contentious E-1 area east of Jerusalem.
Those contracts expired in 2015.
Last month, the BDS movement kicked off its 12th annual Israeli Apartheid Week in the UK by hanging dozens of anti-Israel posters in the London Underground, with one of them attacking G4S for “securing Israeli apartheid.”
Next to a picture of a Palestinian child being restrained by an IDF soldier, the poster read “Over 500 Palestinian children are held without trial at G4S equipped Israeli prisons every year.”
The campaign also accused the firm of doing “whatever it takes to secure profits,” and said Palestinian minors are subject to subject to sexual abuse, torture and forced confessions.
The powerful image used on the G4S poster was taken during an August 2015 altercation between IDF soldiers and Palestinian activists protesting the construction of an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. An all-out brawl ensued after protesters attempted to stop an Israeli solider from arresting 12-year-old Muhammad Tamimi, who was suspected of throwing rocks at IDF vehicles nearby.
Photos and videos of the incident flooded social media.
London officials said the posters were hung in the underground network without permission, and they were quickly removed.