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Oxfam says arms licences for Israel ‘comprehensive failure’ of UK ‘moral leadership’

June 12, 2024 at 1:16 pm

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak makes a statement as raining outside 10 Downing Street announcing UK general election will take place on 4 July in London, United Kingdom on May 22, 2024 [Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency]

UK-based charity Oxfam criticised the government on Tuesday for approving more than 100 export licences for the sale of weapons and military equipment to Israel since 7 October, Anadolu has reported.

This, said Oxfam Chief Executive Halima Begum, is a “comprehensive failure in the UK’s moral leadership” and the values of humanity for which this country is still known on the global stage. It is also “a remarkable feat of intellectual compromise” for the British government to talk about peace in Gaza while facilitating the supply of even greater flows of weapons to one of the sides involved.

“This has occurred in the unequivocal knowledge that tens of thousands of innocent Palestinian children and their parents are being killed by Israel’s prosecution of the war in Gaza,” said Begum.

Noting that innocent Palestinians in Gaza face relentless bombardment, growing hunger and the destruction of hospitals, schools and other vital civilian infrastructures, she pointed out that there is nowhere left for civilians to run.

“Compounding the unimaginable suffering that will inevitably result from the granting of these licences, the UK government has also allowed hundreds of existing arms licences to remain current without questioning a single one,” said the Oxfam official. “By continuing to sell arms to Israel, the UK Government is helping to fuel this dreadful conflict and it needs to change course urgently.”

Begum stressed that suspending all licences for sales of arms and military equipment immediately would send a “powerful message” that the UK is serious about pushing for a lasting ceasefire.

According to new data released by the Department for Business and Trade on Tuesday, the UK has issued 108 arms export licences to Israel since last October, while over 300 licences were still active as of May this year.

In eight months of its brutal military offensive against the Gaza Strip, Israel has killed or wounded 122,000 Palestinians, most of them children and women. An estimated 10,000 remain missing presumed dead under the rubble of their homes destroyed by the occupation state. The elderly and children are now at serious risk of starving to death as famine takes hole in the enclave.

READ: ‘Immense’ Gaza death toll is crime against humanity, UN inquiry says