Monday, June 17, 2024

UK approved over 100 military export licences to Israel since Gaza war

More than 100 UK export licences for the sale of weapons, military equipment and other controlled items to Israel have been approved since October 2023, new data has disclosed.

No licences were revoked after the Hamas-led attacks on 7 October, nor have any been refused with 185 applications, including some made before the attacks, still pending, according to the Department for Business and Trade.

The data, released on Tuesday, shows that more than 300 licences, including those permitting the export of UK arms and military equipment to Israel, were in place at the end of May.

Military equipment covered under those licences include components for military aircraft, vehicles and combat naval vessels, the department added.

The data comes after months of pressure from MPs for greater transparency from the government about its decision-making process on arms exports to Israel with many calling for an immediate suspension.

The department announced on Tuesday it had chosen to release the information “given the exceptional circumstances, and the significant Parliamentary and public interest”.

Campaigners told Middle East Eye said the fact that not a single licence had been rejected since 7 October was “shocking”, with some raising concerns that the data released was too sparse and will only leave the politicians and public it was meant to serve with more questions.

Neil Sammonds, senior campaigner for the UK-based War On Want, stated: “It should be shocking that the UK has not revoked any arms licences to Israel given the clear risk they might be used in violations of international law, let alone in multiple war crimes and genocide.”

Tim Bierley, campaigner for UK-based Global Justice Now, added the government’s figures “show they’ve given Israel the key to the weapons factory, underlining the severity of British complicity in the war crimes being committed by Israel”.

“As Israel flagrantly disregards humanitarian law, carrying out brutal attacks on civilians, aid workers and hospitals, any government with a shred of moral fibre would have stopped sending arms long ago.”

Emily Apple, media coordinator at the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said while the data showed it was “business as usual for arms dealers to break international law”, she was alarmed by the lack of transparency and accountability in the figures provided.

“This data release was supposed to address the political and public interest in arms sales to Israel. The figures released do not do this as they do not give any details of the equipment exported or its value,” Apple added.

“If and when we have a new Labour government, it is vital that they not only impose an arms embargo but address the lack of transparency in our export licensing system.”

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