UK slammed over Israel arms deals

17 July 2013 - 5:22pm
Press release

British ministers today came under scathing criticism, after MPs revealed the government has sanctioned almost 400 export licences for arms sales to Israel.

The attack came from the anti-poverty charity War on Want, amid a report that pointed to licences for sales of equipment to Israel worth £7.8 billion.

This included body armour, parts for “all-wheel drive vehicles with ballistic protection”, assault rifles, pistols, military support vehicles and small arms ammunition.

These details featured in a report from the cross-party arms export committee on licences for countries which the Foreign Office itself describes as “of concern” because of their poor record on human rights.

War on Want hit out at the deals and demanded a two-way arms embargo between the UK and Israel.

In its latest military assault against the Palestinian population of besieged Gaza, Israel launched 1,643 missile strikes in six days.

On 14 November 2012 the Israeli army began attacking Gaza with drones, Apache helicopters, F-16 fighter jets and naval vessels. 

For eight days, civilian areas of Gaza were bombarded by Israel from air and sea, with horrific effect.

Senior campaigner Rafeef Ziadah said: “The UK government's cooperation with Israel's army and military industry disregards abundant evidence in UN resolutions and from international human rights organisations.

“This evidence has shown Israel's unlawful use of force and weapons, resulting in human rights violations, including collective punishment.
“Ministers have granted hundreds of different licences for exports of arms and military equipment to Israel.
“These licences help Israel's military enforce and entrench the country's increasingly brutal occupation.
“Israel has persistently violated international law and Palestinian human rights.
“We will intensify our efforts for an effective and credible arms embargo, operating in both directions between the British and Israeli governments.”


NOTES TO EDITORS

  • According to the MPs' report, more than half of the export licences approved by the government for 27 countries applied to Israel.
  • In 2009 a statement from the then British foreign secretary David Miliband said UK-supplied components were "almost certainly" used by Israel for its Cast Lead military operation in Gaza.
  • Miliband cited F16 combat aircraft, Apache attack helicopters, Saar-Class corvettes and armoured personnel carriers.

CONTACT: War on Want media officer Paul Collins (+44) (0)20 7324 5054 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

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