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uk Weapons sales to israel

GLAN and the Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq are taking the UK government to court over weapons exports to Israel 

Update 23 April 2024: Our case is no longer dismissed! Our challenge was revived and expedited by the High Court and we can now expect a full hearing in October.

The High Court dismissed our case in late February. We secured an oral hearing and argued that a full hearing is needed to hold the government to account for supplying weapons to Israel. Read our media statement which includes a brief analysis of what was revealed in this round of court documents. Here are five things we learned: 

  1. Court documents reveal that on April 8, a week after three Israeli airstrikes on the World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers, the UK made a new decision to continue arms exports to Israel. This followed an assessment by Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron. 

  2. Remarkably this decision was based on out-of-date information & only considered events between 2 Dec 2023 to 28 Jan 2024. This continues to be the case. The documents show that no assessment has been made on the WCK strikes for instance. 

  3. Court documents also revealed that the UK government can make additional urgent assessments on Israel’s compliance “where circumstances require” with international humanitarian law. No such an assessment was conducted after Israel’s attack on WCK aid workers when British nationals were killed. 

  4. Israel is not providing the UK with briefings on individual incidents and investigations into potential war crimes are carried out by Israel themselves.   

  5. Five legal assessments of the situation in Gaza have been made, known as IHL Compliance Evidence Bases. They include identification of incidents of concern & analysis of statements by international bodies, States & NGOs. Given the widespread consensus that Israel’s conduct violates international law it is hard to conceive that the advice given to the Foreign Secretary pointed in any other direction. 

Key Case Developments

We have requested disclosure of legal advice revealed in leaked recording
We wrote to the government to request that they confirm whether it is accurate that “the Foreign Office has received official legal advice that Israel has broken international humanitarian law,” per the leaked recording of Alicia Kearns MP. If that is the case, it is likely that in failing to disclose this material update in the context of ongoing litigation, the government will have breached its obligations to the court under the duty of candour. 

We are ensuring the UK government has knowledge of situation in Gaza

Since January 2024 we have submitted six factual updates on the situation in Gaza to the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, for the purposes of her ongoing assessment with respect to arms sales to Israel. These updates have been sent via the Government Legal Department, and in the context of ongoing litigation, which means the information contained within them can be taken to be legally within the Government’s knowledge.

Gaza Open-Source Investigations

GLAN has been working on a soon-to-be-launched platform which brings together online social media evidence in an evidentiary format. We have submitted our investigations to the UK government in the form of factual updates decribed above. The genocide in Gaza is playing out on social media and it is the government’s obligation to scrutinise that in real time as well as focus on international NGOs and Israeli investigations. 

We are urgently raising funds for this legal action & against other major war aggressors:


18 October 2023: GLAN and Al Haq write to the UK Government notifying them of the clear risk of violaitons of international humanitarian law by Israel in its aerial bombardment and seige of Gaza.


25 October 2023 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.

06 December 2023: GLAN and ‎‎Al-Haq filed a legal action in the High Court to halt UK weapons sales to Israel over illegal attacks on civilians who are trapped and under siege in Gaza, after requests for the government to suspend exports were refused. As the situation on the ground deteriorates the evidence is clear. The law requires all arms exports to stop. Our submission detailed allegations of indiscriminate attacks on civilians, starvation, forced displacement, and the serious risk of genocide, including genocidal statements from members of the Knesset and military leaders.

18th February 2024: Court dismissed our case.

23rd February 2024: GLAN lawyers file appeal and asked that a hearing be expedited.  

12th January 2024: Documents from our case reveal the government had 'serious concerns' over Israel which it did not share with parliament or the public. The UK government has responded to our case with Al-Haq confirming they did four 'risk assessments' from 7 October - 18 December which included writing to the government of Israel in November regarding a limited number of issues. Israel's response claims it is committed to complying with international law, however they declined to respond to specific incidents in the government's letter and gave no meaningful justification for restricting food, water & medical supplies to Gaza. The UK government has inexplicably accepted this inadequate response despite evidence of extensive violations of international law and Foreign Office's own advice stating “the volume of strikes, total death toll, as well as proportion of those who are children raise serious concerns”. Clearly this is unacceptable. The government's response does not address the core issues of the case and provide evidence that Israel is, in fact, complying with international law. 


23rd April 2024: Oral hearing in High Court resulting in our case being revived and expedited. A full hearing is now expected in October.

Documents from this case have made headlines - read more in the Guardian

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.


Al-Haq is represented by GLAN lawyers Dearbhla Minogue and Charlotte Andrews-Briscoe, and Alice Hardy of Bindmans LLP. Their counsel are Victoria Wakefield KC and Jagoda Klimowicz of Brick Court Chambers, and Luke Tattersall of Essex Court Chambers. 

MP Briefing, Alfred Dubs.jpg

On 12 March 2024 GLAN & Al-Haq were invited to brief UK MPs and Lords on the UK's obligations to stop weapons exports to Israel under international law & its own rules on arms exports.

>>> Learn more 

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“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is the result of numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity committed over time. The Internationl Court of Justice has made is clear that states, like the UK, have a duty to prevent genocide. There should be no doubt that British-made weapons are at acute risk of being used to commit further war crimes and, possibly genocide. Arms exports need to stop” 

Dr Gearóid Ó Cuinn, Director of the Global Legal Action Network

“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

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