It’s Valentines Day in a couple of weeks and tonnes of cut flowers from Israel and the Occupied Territories are set to be exported to Europe. Many of these flowers come from the besieged Gaza Strip, a captive market for Israeli companies like Carmel-Agrexco. Israel has eased its siege on Gaza specifically to allow the export of flowers to Europe through Israeli companies. Roughly 450,000 flowers have been passing through the Gaza crossings each week, bound for the UK, Holland and other parts of Europe. Agrexco’s flowers are also sourced from the occupied West Bank.
In previous years, Carmel-Agrexco’s UK headquarters in Hayes, Middlesex, was the site of angry protests on Valentine’s Day, with campaigners calling for a boycott of Israeli flowers and other goods. Corporate Watch has learnt that Cargoflora, which has premises around the corner from Agrexco’s depot, has in previous years provided freight services for Carmel-Agrexco flowers over the Valentine’s period.
Cargoflora is a British company specialising in temperature-controlled freight services. Its website says it provides services for the fresh cut flower industry, among others. The company’s partners, J and E Distributors Ltd, based in the same office as Cargoflora, advertises that it imports flowers from Israel.
Dear corporation: An open letter to Cargoflora
We are writing to you because we have received information that Cargoflora is transporting cut flowers from Carmel-Agrexco’s warehouse in Swallowfield Way, Hayes.
As you must be aware, Carmel-Agrexco sources its cut flowers from Palestinian land illegally occupied by Israel. Agrexco, a partially Israeli state-owned company, owns packing houses situated on illegal settlements in the West Bank such as Tomer, Massua, Ro’i, Netiv Hagdud and Mehola. These settlements are constructed on land expropriated from Palestinians, who now have no option but to work for companies like Agrexco.
The settlements are illegal under international law and the British government’s position is that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are unlawful (see the FCO website).
Furthermore, Palestinian workers on these settlements are routinely paid under half the minimum wage and are often under-age (for example, see http://www.kavlaoved.org.il/media-view_eng.asp?id=2327″>here).
Carmel-Agrexco’s business is not lawful. In operating packing houses in illegally occupied territory, they are ancillary to Apartheid and other crimes against humanity under the International Criminal Court Act 2001. Crimes under the International Criminal Court Act are criminal offences under English law.
In providing services to Carmel-Agrexco, you are complicit in their breaches of UK law and the suffering caused to Palestinian communities by their expropriation of Palestinian land and resources.
Please confirm whether, in the light of this information, you will cease providing services to Carmel-Agrexco. We would also be interested to know whether you, or your partners J and E Page Distributors Limited, import flowers directly from the Occupied Territories.
Happy Valentine’s Day!