Report reveals extent of British arming of Israel

Documents revealed that arms export licences worth £42m had been granted to 130 British defence manufacturers since 2010 with the aim of selling military gear to Israel.

Report reveals extent of British arming of Israel

World Bulletin / News Desk

A report has revealed the extent to which the British government has been supplying Israel with military equipment ranging from weapons control and targeting systems to ammunition, drones and armoured vehicles which are being used in the bombardment of Gaza.

Despite former Foreign Secretary David Miliband vowing that all future export applications to Israel would be taken into account back in 2009 after he acknowlegded UK-made components were used in that year's Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, five years on the UK authorities is again accused of failing to regulate arms sales to Israel.

Documents shown to The Independent revealed that arms export licences worth £42m had been granted to 130 British defence manufacturers since 2010 with the aim of selling military gear to Israel.

Two British companies were among the manufacturers given permission to make sales in order to supply components for the Hermes drone, which the Israeli air force describes as the “backbone” of its strikes on Gaza. One company also supplies parts for Israel’s main Merkava IV battle tank.

Lawmaker Katy Clark of the Labour Party opposition told The Independent: “By refusing to investigate this vital question the British Government are trying to bury their heads in the sand. This is a shameful approach to take and frankly makes the Government look as if it has something to hide.

“The British public have the right to know the level of support which the United Kingdom has provided to the Israeli armed forces through arms sales.”

The documents that were obtained by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) under the Freedom of Information Act states that head-up displays for F-16 jets and parts for Apache attack helicopters have been produced by at least half a dozen UK companies or subsidiaries. Last year the trade of components from the UK to Israel was worth more than £7 billion.

The report also states the names of the companies that have secured deals with Israeli partners and the Israeli military and have been granted export licences by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Schleifring Systems Ltd, a UK-based subsidiary of a German defence company, is among the companies that have received 21 licences for military-use equipment in 2010, The Independent reported. The firm on its brochure claims to have supplied components for the Hermes drones.

UAV Engines Ltd, which is UK-basded subsidiary of Israeli defence firm Elbit, was also granted a licence to supply equipment relating to “target acquisition, designation, range-finding, surveillance or tracking systems,” including the engine for the Hermes 450 drone. However, Elbit has previously denied this.

BAE Systems was also listed as having provided head-up display units for US-built F16s that were delivered to Israel prior to 2002.

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) member Andrew Smith told The Independent, “There must be an immediate embargo on all arms sales and military collaboration with Israel. When governments sell weapons into war zones they cannot absolve themselves of responsibility for what happens when they are used.”

To this, a statement read by a British government spokesman replied: “We are currently reviewing all existing export licences to Israel. All applications for export licences are assessed on a case by case basis against strict criteria. We will not issue a licence if there is a clear risk that the equipment might be used for internal repression, or if there is a clear risk that it would provoke or prolong conflict.”

"We are currently reviewing all export licences to Israel to confirm that we think they are appropriate," a spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters. The decision to conduct the review was taken last week, she said.

The death toll since Israel began pounding the Gaza Strip on July 7 has reached 1821, including at least 401 children, 238 women and 74 elders, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

At least 64 Israeli soldiers have also been killed in battles with Palestinian fighters and three civilians in rocket attacks.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Ağustos 2014, 14:39