Protesters storm M&S store in support of Gaza

August 25, 2014

More than 30 pro-Palestinian activists stormed the Marks and Spencer store in Newry’s Buttercrane Centre on Saturday, in protest at what they claimed are the firm’s Zionist links to the support of Israel.

Protestors carrying flags and placards and using air horns, entered the store chanting slogans and removed goods from shelves, placing them in trolleys with stickers bearing messages calling for a boycott of the products.

Though noisy, the demonstration was largely peaceful, however, M&S staff were accused of physically man-handling some protesters in a “heavy-handed response”, which, they claim, was “in stark contrast” to how similar protests were handled in Belfast.

A representative of the recently formed Newry Palestine Support Group said the protest was organized in response to the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza, which has caused outrage around the world.

“This protest has been a huge success and we have raised some much needed awareness to the situation in Gaza.  The reason we chose to protest at this location is due to the fact that Marks & Spencer are very much complicit in the genocide of the Palestinian people and are assisting in the funding of Israel’s war machine. From its birth M&S has been inextricably linked to Zionism. In fact Lord Marcus Sieff, long time Chairman of M&S, stated that one of the fundamental objectives of M&S is to aid the economic development of Israel,” the spokesperson claimed.

“It has also been reported that M&S are profiteering from the illegal occupation of Palestine by selling goods purportedly produced in the State of Israel and exported internationally by the Zionist regime, which are actually produced in the Occupied Territories and sold under ‘Made in Israel’ labels. Products imported from Israel in the West are produced in Israeli settlements within the Occupied Territories, often by the hands of exploited Palestinian labourers. The actions are illegal according to international law and are in violation of EU trade agreements. By importing goods produced in the Occupied Territories, M&S demonstrates its support for the regime’s illegal and brutal colonisation of Palestine through expanding settlement activity, and thereby its complicity in Israeli war crimes.

“This is not a one off token protest, we are currently looking at other initiatives to partake in to support the besieged Palestinians in Gaza. Our members are made up of seasoned activists who have plenty of experience in campaigning on various humanitarian issues of concern over the years. This event is simply the first of many,” the spokesperson added.