The British government approved £4 million ($6.23 million) worth arms deal in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza last year, the Independent newspaper reported on Thursday.
The daily said that UK-made weaponry may have been used by Israel during Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge,” which claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Palestinians, mainly civilians, last year.
The Independent added the figures seen by the daily show that Britain approved dozens of military exports to Israel, including components for drones and air-to-surface missiles within weeks of the conflict.
Many campaigners said Israel’s assault on Gaza didn’t stop the British government conducting “business as usual” in the sale of arms which could be used in fresh assaults on Palestinians.
Last year’s bombardment prompted reactions inside the British government, leading to the resignation of Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi, who said Britain’s stance during the air and sea assault had been “morally indefensible.” She called for an immediate halt to arms sales to Israel.
The ministers in the British government concluded that they found 12 instances where British-made components feature in weapons being deployed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
The paper said new figures published in a report called “Arming Apartheid” reveal that Britain continued to sell weaponry worth millions to Israel, turning a “blind eye” to the risk armes could be used in any fresh assaults.
“More than 2,000 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 it supports,” Andrew Smith, spokesman for Campaign Against Arms Trade, said.
“Even the government has admitted it’s highly likely that UK weapons were used against Gaza last year. Now it is turning a blind eye to its own evidence. These arms sales send a message that arms company profits and military contracts are more important than the human rights of Palestinians.”
According to the paper, in the three months between the end of hostilities in Gaza in August last year and the end of December, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) approved 32 military exports from Britain to Israel worth £3.97 million. The first licence was granted on Sept. 1 - just six days after the announcement of an Israeli ceasefire.
The Independent also revealed earlier this year that the government approved arms exports worth nearly £7 million to Israel in the six months prior to Operation Protective Edge, which Tel Aviv said was necessary to halt rocket attacks from Gaza by Hamas fighters.