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UK approved more than 100 arms export licences to Israel since Gaza war

June 11, 2024 at 4:21 pm

Mobility of tanks, armored personnel carriers, trucks and military jeeps belonging to the Israeli army continues on the border line near the city of Rafah, Gaza on May 29, 2024. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

The UK has issued more than 100 arms export licences to Israel between October and May, according to government figures.

Of the 108 licences, 37 were categorised as military and 63 as non-military, which may include telecommunications equipment for use by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). In total, there are currently 345 licences for arms sales to Israel, including those issued before 7 October.

The Department for Business and Trade released these figures today in response to what it described as “exceptional circumstances, and the significant Parliamentary and public interest”.

No licence was revoked since Israel launched its brutal bombing campaign in Gaza, which experts have said is genocidal, nor have any been refused, with 185 applications still pending.

Emily Apple, media coordinator of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), criticised the figures for not revealing the value or details of what arms are being supplied, rather only the number of licences issued.

“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 said.

“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.”

Ministers in three separate decisions, made in December, April and May, rejected calls to suspend arms exports to Israel. They stated that these decisions were consistent with or in line with legal advice.

Numerous international bodies and UK campaign groups have asserted that Israel’s use of military equipment in Gaza, which has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians, risks breaching international humanitarian law. This is a key consideration in the UK’s legal criteria for deciding whether to suspend arms export licences.

It is also argued that these arms have helped Israel impose controls on humanitarian aid which have led to the creation of a “man-made famine” in Gaza.

The value of UK-approved arms export licences to Israel was £42 million in 2022. The figure for the entirety of 2023 is expected to be published later this week.

The British government has sold weapons and military components worth more than £570 million ($719 million) to Israel since 2008.

Military exports to Israel, which included components for explosive devices, assault rifles and military aircraft, were about 0.4 per cent of Britain’s total global defence sales in 2022

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