The latest official government figures, collated by War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Campaign Against Arms Trade, reveal that the UK approved £4 million worth of arms sales to Israel in the four months that followed last year’s bombardment of Gaza.
The licences cover equipment that is likely to be used if violence resumes; including components for military helicopters and licences for military guidance/navigation equipment. There were also 36 licences to third party countries for weapons being sold to Israel; including licences for components for surface-to-surface missiles, combat helicopters and military communications equipment.
The revelations are included in Arming Apartheid: UK Complicity in Israel’s Crimes Against the Palestinian People a new report written by David Wearing, researcher at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and published jointly by the three organisations. The report focuses on the extent and nature of the arms trade between the UK and Israel.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “More than 2000 people died in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, and yet in the months immediately following the conflict it was business as usual for the UK government and the arms companies they support.”
Last year saw a review overseen by the then Business Secretary Vince Cable that identified twelve licences for components that it concluded may have been used in the 2014 assault. However, despite its own findings the Government chose not to revoke or even suspend a single licence.
The continuation of arms sales represents a form of political as well as material support from the UK to Israel despite the construction of the ‘apartheid wall’ in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements there and the ongoing blockade of Gaza.
Sarah Colborne, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: “By continuing to arm Israel, the UK government continues to arm apartheid. Sanctions are vital if the Palestinians are to see a future free from occupation, apartheid, killings and destruction.”
The three organisations have called for a full two-way arms embargo, comprising an end to exports, imports and all others forms of military collaboration.
Ryvka Barnard Senior Campaigner on Militarism and Security at War on Want said: “The Arming Apartheid report exposes the UK government’s continued complicity in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people, making the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel, now in its 10th year, as important as ever. Only a full two-way arms embargo can ensure the UK will no longer be complicit in Israeli states crimes and abuses.”
The UK has a history of irresponsible arms sales to Israel. A Ministerial Statement on 21 April 2009, by the then Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary David Miliband, confirmed that Israeli equipment used in Gaza in the 2008-9 conflict “almost certainly” contained UK-supplied components.
David Wearing, the report’s author, said:“Ministers’ claims that the UK enforces stringent controls on arms exports simply do not stand up to scrutiny. Any real restriction comes from the embarrassment of bad publicity, and then only in the wake of a conflict, too late for the Palestinians affected.”
This media release was sent to national and international media on 2 July 2015