uk Weapons sales to israel
Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and Palestinian human rights organisation Al Haq have written to the Secretary of State for International Trade, Kemi Badenoch, asking her to suspend all weapons export licences to Israel.
On 16th October 2023 we wrote to the Secretary of State for International Trade asking for weapons sales to Israel be halted, as required by international law. Under the government’s Strategic Licensing Criteria, weapons may not be exported where there is a clear risk they might be used in violations of international law. The Israeli regime violates most of the fundamental human rights of Palestinians. Its policies and actions in Gaza have consistently resulted in indiscriminate attacks on civilians and the imposition of a system of apartheid in occupied Palestinian territory. New Israeli policies explicitly call for collective punishment, with incriminating statements direct from the Israeli military characterising their attacks as reprisals against civilians.
Indiscriminate Bombardment of Gaza
Israel is currently unleashing the heaviest and most indiscriminate aerial bombardment Gaza has ever seen, killing civilians at a rate of hundreds per day. Israel has also ordered the forced displacement of over 1 million civilians from northern Gaza; the UN stated this transfer will have “devastating humanitarian consequences” and could amount to a crime against humanity of forcible transfer.
The UK has consistently approved sale of lethal weapons to the Israeli Defence Force and in recent days has promised major support for Israel’s decimation of Gaza. In addition to the £560 million in limited-value “standard” licences the UK has granted since 2015 alone, it has also granted 88 “open” licences which allow for unlimited quantities and value of exports. The kinds of items exported include components for the F35 stealth combat aircraft currently being used in the bombardment of Gaza, as well as body armour, military communications equipment, military electronic equipment, components for military radars and targeting equipment, naval vessel components, and much more.
Given that these items are all capable of being used in Israel’s actions against Palestinians, many of which are criminal acts under international law, there is plainly a “clear risk” under the Strategic Licensing Criteria, so the government should not be issuing these licences.
On 25th October GLAN and Al-Haq submitted further information of the risk of genocide in Gaza to the Secretary of State for International Trade. See more on X (Twitter) here.
“Colonialism and corporations have historically been intertwined. The situation in Palestine is no different. It is not surprising that Israeli and British interests converge in the ongoing devastation of Gaza. If the UK is ever going to break from its legacy of colonialism it cannot continue to support the ongoing colonization of Palestine. Halting arms sales now is the least it can do as a first step in this regard.”
- Wesam Ahmad, Head of Center for Applied International Law, Al-Haq
We are determined to hold the UK government to its legal obligation to halt these weapons export licences. We have made clear that if they fail to do so, we will take them to the High Court in judicial review proceedings.
“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is the result of numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity committed over time. Recent statements by Israeli military leaders now obligates states to review their transfer of arms. There should be no doubt that these weapons are at acute risk of being used to commit further criminal acts and, possibly genocide.”
- Dr Gearóid Ó Cuinn, Director of the Global Legal Action Network