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Israel boycott campaigners acquitted in London store protest

London, Aug 11, IRNA — Four Israel boycott campaigners have been acquitted of all charges related to two direct action protests at Ahava cosmetics store in central London.
The campaigners were charged with aggravated trespass after locking themselves onto concrete-filled oil drums inside the shop, which sells beauty products from an illegal Israeli settlement, causing it to close down for two days in September and December 2009.

Charges were dropped on the first day of the trial on Tuesday after the primary witness for the prosecution, Ahava’s store manager, refused to attend court to testify despite a court summons and threats of an arrest warrant.

Taherali Gulamhussein, Bruce Levy, Tom Ellis and Ms Crouch, all from London, were found not guilty of failing to comply with a police officer’s orders to leave the shop.

The campaigners, who have been holding fortnightly protests at the store, insist that they are legally justified in their actions as all cosmetics on sale from the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem and are deliberately mislabelled ‘Made in Israel’.

“This is a small victory in the wider campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. We’ll continue to challenge corporate complicity in the occupation and Israel’s impunity on the international stage,” said Crouch.

Another acquitted campaigner said the message is clear: “If your company is involved in apartheid and war crimes and occupying Palestinian land, people will occupy your shop.”

Sarah Colborne, of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said ‘it is the owners of Ahava who should be in court, not just for their role in helping to cement an unlawful occupation, but for violating the Fourth Geneva Convention by exploiting the natural resources of an occupied territory for profit.”

To date, no campaigner has been successfully prosecuted and another protest at the central London store is planned for this Saturday.

The boycott is supported by a range of organisations, including that includes the International Solidarity Movement, Jews for the Boycott of Israeli Goods, Stop the War Coalition and others.

In France, the worldwide campaign against Ahava has led to the start of a court case against Sephora chain of cosmetics stores for retailing the illegal beauty products.

The acquittals comes after Hove Crown Court in southern England cleared seven anti-war activists of all charges after breaking into the EDO arms equipment factory that supplies military equipment to Israel.

In the EDO case the defendants claimed they were trying to prevent the factory from making arms for Israel during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last year when more than 1,400 Palestinians were slaughtered.