Boycott Campaign: Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd.

CJPME Factsheet 243, created May 2024: This factsheet examines Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd., a skincare company profiting from resources in the Dead Sea region and facing scrutiny for its ties to Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories. Despite ownership changes, including a majority share held by a Chinese investment group, Ahava's historical association with illegal settlements has consistently raised ethical and legal concerns. This factsheet advocates for sustained boycott efforts until Ahava complies with international law by ceasing operations and extraction of resources in occupied Palestine. 

Boycott Campaign: AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd.

Factsheet Series No. 243, Created: May 2024, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

What is Ahava?

Established in 1988, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd. is a skincare and cosmetics company specializing in products composed of minerals and resources from the Dead Sea.[1] Based in the Dead Sea region in the Jordan Rift Valley, their products are distributed throughout Israel, Europe, and North America, with their export revenue accounting for the majority of the profit.

How has Ahava’s support for Israel’s colonial expansion changed over the years?

In mid-2016, the Israeli company was sold to Fosun, a Chinese investment group.[2] Though Fosun now has a controlling share of Ahava, the illegal Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia settlements had, at one point, been among the company's primary shareholders. Being under partial ownership of these illegal colonies meant that Ahava's profits translated into direct benefits for the illegal settlements and their residents. The Mitzpe Shalem settlement was the site of Ahava's primary manufacturing factory until the company opened another one at Kibbutz Ein Gedi, on Israel’s side of the Green line[3], in 2016.[4]

As of May 2024, Ahava's visitor center and factory in Mitzpe Shalem is listed as temporarily closed, so the scale of its activities in this settlement are largely unknown.[5] Nevertheless, the boycott movement should pressure AHAVA until its factory and operations in illegal settlements are permanently closed.  Ahava provides employment opportunities in its factory to the settlement's residents, and attracts tourists and customers to the Ahava Visitors Center and store located in Mitzpe Shalem. Not only do these economic opportunities serve to legitimize the colony and sustain its economic growth, but Ahava’s operations also allow the settlement to absorb new settlers.[6] Under international law, the establishment of colonies and colonial infrastructure on occupied territory is illegal. This is indicated in the Fourth Geneva Convention (Art. 49, p. 6), and in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which considers the transfer of a population to occupied territories a war crime.[7] Furthermore, the continuing establishment and expansion of settlements on Palestinian land significantly hinders the achievement of a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” as prescribed in UN Security Council Resolution 446 (March 22, 1979).[8]

Regardless of the extent to which Ahava’s manufacturing operations are active in illegal settlements, the company nevertheless operates a store in the Neve Midbar Beach within the Megilot Dead Sea settlements regional council in the northern Dead Sea, occupied West Bank.[9] As stated previously, operating stores in illegal settlements amounts to the theft and exploitation of Palestinian land, resources, and labour, and the profiting of businesses from economic activity in these settlements is a crime.

Why boycott Ahava?

First, the mud and mineral resources used in Ahava’s Dead Sea products are drawn from the Dead Sea shores of occupied Palestinian territory. This extraction of resources from occupied territory is a violation of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3005, and 3336, and the Fourth Geneva Convention (Art. 33, p.2), all of which forbid an occupying power from exploiting the natural resources of an occupied nation or territory.[10] This exploitation of resources is also in violation of Article 3 ( Section C) of the UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises (2003) which states that “business enterprises shall not engage in nor benefit from war crimes, crimes against humanity...other violations of humanitarian law and other international crimes against the human person as defined by international law, in particular human rights and humanitarian law.”[11] Even worse, as of 2012, Who Profits found that Ahava is the only company that holds an excavation license to “operate a mud excavation site from the occupied area of the Dead Sea.”[12] As outlined by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, this instance is part of Israel’s general tendency of “usurping Palestinian natural resources and disregarding the environment,” and robbing Palestinians of vital assets and their right to development.[13]

Although Ahava’s products contain resources extracted from the occupied West Bank and some may still be manufactured in Ahava’s factory located in the West Bank, Ahava’s products indicate that they originate from “The Dead Sea, Israel.”[14] This is particularly problematic for Canadian citizens and taxpayers. The Canadian government does not recognize Israel’s claims to the occupied West Bank. Therefore, labelling products made or resourced from the West Bank as Israeli commodities allows Ahava products to export its products to Canada under the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) and circumvent Canadian import taxes and duty fees.[15] Additionally, the misleading labels prevent Canadian consumers from making well-informed ethical consumption choices.

It is also important to note that in July 2005 more than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations issued a call asking the international community to boycott Israeli products in order to promote recognition of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. Palestinian civil society called for a boycott of any business or institution participating in the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories, and this must be carried out by ethical consumers throughout the international community.

How can I boycott Ahava effectively?

Ahava is named as a principle target of the international BDS movement, as per the BDS National Committee’s Website.  For the boycott to be effective, one must consistently boycott, on the first order, all Ahava products, but also any store that carries the company’s products. In Canada, these stores include Walmart,[16] The Bay,[17] and Amazon[18]. In addition to boycotting products/locations as an individual, it is also critical to communicate to Ahava executives and store managers that carry Ahava products why you are engaging in this boycott. Posting on social media and sharing with your friends the reasons behind your boycott will also work to tarnish Ahava’s reputation and further advance BDS’ objectives.

How have Ahava-supplying companies responded to calls for boycott?

The early 2010s marked the beginning of a persistent boycott campaign against Ahava for its gross misconduct and exploitation of Palestinian land and resources. Some speculate that the company’s erection of an additional factory and visitor center on Israel’s side of the Green Line in 2016 was in response to widespread calls for boycott. The manager of the “Stolen Beauty” boycott campaign declared that Ahava’s brand was largely tainted because of the “prolonged international boycott campaign against them” and an inability to “find investors in the US or Europe.”[19] The decades-long campaign has caused several Ahava-supplying chains to drop the skincare products because of ethical and legal issues. In 2012, Japanese distributor DaitoCrea announced that they would stop carrying Ahava products.[20] Not long after, a Norwegien retail chain VITA decided to “stop all sales of products originating from settlements in occupied Palestine and, therefore, all Ahava products from their portfolio.[21] These victories show that pressuring companies and their suppliers is effective and should not cease until Ahava complies with all BDS demands.

When should the boycott of Ahava end?

The boycott will end once AHAVA permanently dismantles its operations, including the sale of products and the extraction of resources, in the illegal settlements located in the occupied Palestinian territories, and when Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian territory.


[1] “Our Origins,” AHAVA, Accessed May 2024 at

[2] “Chinese purchase of Israel’s Ahava shows boycott is hurting,” The Electronic Intifada, 4 September 2015, Accessed May 2024.

[3] The “Green Line” was the armistice line established at the end of hostilities in 1948, and has served for decades as the defacto “border” between Israel proper, and the occupied West Bank. 

[4] “Ahava cosmetics giant opens plant inside Israel’s Green Line,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 11 May 2016, Accessed May 2024.

[5] “Customer Service,” AHAVA, Accessed May 2024.

[6] “The Israeli Exploitation of Palestinian Natural Resources: Part IV,” Who Profits, November 2016, Accessed May 2024.

[7] “Article 49 – Deportations, transfers, evacuations,: International Humanitarian Law Databases, Accessed May 2024.

[8] “Resolution 446,” United Nations Digital Library, 22 March 1979.

[9] Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories,” Who Profits,” 27 March 2023, Accessed May 24.

[10] “Occupation and international humanitarian law: questions and answers,” International Committee of the Red Cross, 4 August 2004, Accessed May 2024.

[11] “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” United Nations, 26 August 2003, Accessed May 2024.

[12] “The Israeli Exploitation of Palestinian Natural Resources: Part IV,” Who Profits, November 16, Accessed May 2024.

[13] “Israel’s exploitation of Palestinian resources is human rights violation, says UN expert,” OHCHR, 18 March 2019, Accessed May 2024.

[14] “The Israeli Exploitation of Palestinian Natural Resources: Part IV,” Who Profits, November 2016, Accessed May 2024.

[15] “Fingering the Goods,” NOW, 22 August, 2002.

[16] “Ahava,” Walmart, Accessed May 2024.

[17] “Ahava,” The Bay, Accessed May 2024.

[18] “Ahava,” Amazon, Accessed May 2024.

[19] “Chinese purchase of Israel’s Ahava shows boycott is hurting,” The Electronic Intifada, 4 September 2015, Accessed May 2024.

[20] “BDS Victory: Ahava products spiked in Japan because of legal and ethical issues,” The Electronic Intifada, 27 February 2012, Accessed May 2024.

[21] BDS Victory: Ahava products dropped by major retail chain in Norway,” The Electronic Intifada, 28 March 2012. Accessed May 2024.