IDF Garnier
500 Garnier beauty products were given to female IDF soldiers. Stand With Us Facebook page

French beauty company Garnier has apologised for any offence caused when care packages of deodorants, soaps and other cosmetics were sent to female Israeli soldiers this week.

A company spokesperson has told IBTimes UK that the initiative, which saw 500 products handed out to the Israel Defence Forces, was "part of a local retailer initiative" and was "managed strictly at local market level".

Kari Kerr, Garnier's Corporate Communications Director, said that the company did not support the initiative, nor does it want its products to be used in any future campaign.

Stand With Us, a group designed to generate support for Israel abroad, had said it was "honoured to be delivering these 'girly' care packages for our lovely female IDF fighters" and issued a "shout out to the Garnier Israel for the amazing donation".

We are honored to be delivering these "girly" care packages for our lovely female IDF fighters!Today's delivery of...

Posted by StandWithUs on Thursday, July 31, 2014

The post on its Facebook page generated over 10,000 comments, many calling for a boycott of Garnier products. The campaign was subsequently continued on Twitter, using the #BoycottGarnier hashtag.

"Garnier values peace and harmony and has a strict policy of not getting involved in any conflict or political matter. The hand-out of about 500 products was part of a local retailer initiative. This was managed strictly at local market level and we are very sorry if anyone was offended," Kerr said in the company's first statement on the affair.

The Chairman of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which spearheads the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, has welcomed Garnier's statement.

Hugh Lanning told IBTimes UK that he would be happy to discuss the news with the company, saying he welcomed "companies that are willing to accept corporate responsibility".

There has been a ratcheting up of pressure on companies seen to be supporting the action of the IDF in Gaza since the conflict began in July – the third war in Gaza in six years.

The BDS movement is targeting Israeli cosmetics company Ahava, which has a factory on an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank; security giant G4S, which provides services and equipment to Israel's prisons and checkpoints; Sodastream, the carbonated drink device maker, which has its main factory in the Mishor Adummim industrial zone in the West Bank; and Veolia, the French multinational which operates a tramway "linking illegal settlements in East Jerusalem with Israel".

Veolia has recently signed an agreement with funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, a global investment manager, for the sale of its water, waste and energy activities in Israel. The company failed to respond to queries around rumours that it is looking to divest from the Jerusalem Light Railway.

The PSC's director Sarah Colborne added, in a written statement:

"We are pleased to hear that Garnier have distanced themselves from the attempt to associate them with the Israeli Forces. It is a pity they did not respond earlier to numerous messages asking them to do so. The Israel lobby group, Stand With Us, claim that Garnier Israel donated the packages to the soldiers. Therefore we urge Garnier to take the issue up with them and issue an urgent statement clarifying whether the company did or did not donate care packages."