UK involvement in arming Israel revealed

An Israeli soldier carries a weapon near the border with the Gaza Strip July 27, 2014.

An Israeli soldier carries a weapon near the border with the Gaza Strip July 27, 2014.

Recent documents reveal that the British government is participating in arming the Israeli army which has killed thousands of Palestinians since the beginning of its offensive against Gaza nearly a month ago, the British daily news website the Independent reported Friday.

The documents, which were obtained by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) under the Freedom of Information Act, showed that the weapons used by Israel against Gaza contain British-made components.

They also revealed that arms export licences worth more than $70 million (£42 million) have been granted to 130 British defense manufacturers since 2010 to sell military equipment to Israel.

Among the manufacturers are two UK companies supplying components for the Hermes drone, described by Israel as the “backbone” of its missions.

The Hermes drone is one of the most widely used drones by the Israeli army, particularly in the Gaza Strip.

Other UK suppliers include BAE Systems, which provided head-up display units for U.S.-built F16s delivered to Israel prior to 2002.

The company said it has not supplied equipment to Israel since then and that additional head-up displays were provided by a domestic manufacturer.

The documents also revealed that dozens of highly specialized UK defense companies have secured deals with Israeli partners and the Israeli military.

Israel is one of the biggest customers for British exports of so-called “dual-use” equipment, the website reported.

Government reaction

Following the worsening situation in Gaza, the British Government is reconsidering its arms sales with Israel.

“We are currently reviewing all existing export licences to Israel. All applications for export licences are assessed on a case by case basis against strict criteria. We will not issue a licence if there is a clear risk that the equipment might be used for internal repression, or if there is a clear risk that it would provoke or prolong conflict,” the government said in a statement.

It is not the first time that Britain is facing such accusations.

In 2009, the Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that some of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) equipment used in Gaza that year had “almost certainly” contained British-supplied components.

 
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