Following a year-long review of 12 export licences for weapons and ammunition to Israel, the UK government has lifted any remaining restrictions on sales of arms to the country, despite the possibility such arms may have been used in 2014 summer war on Gaza that killed over a thousand civilians.
Andrew Smith, of the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said “This is an exceptionally weak and tokenistic review, and it is unclear why it has taken almost a year to complete. Successive governments have said it is likely that UK arms were used against the people of Gaza in 2009 and 2014.”
Britain approved a new arms deal with the state of Israel worth £4 million within weeks of the end of the brutal summer war on Gaza.
UK business secretary Sajid Javid’s said “it was now satisfied that the licences for material including components for military radar and tanks meet the UK’s export criteria, which ban any sale of arms where there is a ‘clear risk’ that they may be used to commit serious breaches of human rights.”
After over 2,000 Palestinians were killed last summer, the UK’s then coalition government was forced to review its policy regarding arms sales to Israel.
Former government minister Baroness Warsi at the time said Britain’s stance towards Israel was “morally indefensible” and the government’s refusal to suspend the 12 licences led to her resignation.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) last year announced a further review of sales of weaponry to Israel, and said that Britain is not applying it’s normal “criteria” to all exports.
It added that the UK government was lifting its previous threat that licences to arms sales would be restricted in the event of renewed hostilities with Israel in the Occupied Territories.
In a statement, the BIS said “Following the review the Government has concluded that in the present context where the facts are clearer these criteria may now be applied, without any additional measures.”