Revealed: UK government's secret arms deals to Israel after Gaza offensive 2

Revealed: UK government’s secret arms deals to Israel after Gaza offensive

Arms deals to worth £4million were approved by Britain immediately after last summer’s bombardment of Gaza.

The sales won official approval despite evidence suggesting British-made arms and components were used in the bombing of the Strip when more than 2000 people were killed.

A new report reveals the ­Government sanctioned licences for surface-to-surface missiles, combat helicopters and military communications equipment after the onslaught.

The first licence was granted only five days after the bombing stopped.

The joint report – called Arming Apartheid – has been published by War on Want, Palestine Solidarity  Campaign and Campaign Against Arms Trade and states the licences cover military equipment that is likely to be used by if violence resumes.

The three organisations want an end to Britain’s military links with Israel and the Scottish Government have called for arms sales to be suspended.

Last August, there were protests in Scotland after it was revealed that an arms firm in Fife called Raytheon made laser-guidance systems for Israeli smart bombs dropped on Gaza.

Andrew Smith, of the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: “UK weapons have been used against Gaza time and again with disastrous consequences. The Government may talk about human rights but they have shown they are more interested in working hand in glove with companies like Raytheon who have a history of selling weapons to Israel. Last summer’s bombardment killed more than 2000 people and created a humanitarian
catastrophe and arms firms were complicit in it.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We continue to call for an arms embargo to Israel until an investigation determines whether UK arms were used in violations of international law during last summer’s conflict. Continued arms sales to Israel will not help the parties make meaningful progress towards a lasting peace.”

Mick Napier, of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “Israel uses US and British, including Scottish, weaponry to periodically massacre the Palestinians it has dispossessed and driven into the packed, open-air prison of Gaza. This profitable trade in the means of death should be stopped because it is inhuman and shameful.”

During the conflict, the ­Government were accused of reneging on a promise to suspend 12 arms export licences to Israel held by UK firms.

Former business secretary Vince Cable said during a ceasefire that licences would be withdrawn if “significant hostilities” resumed. But when fighting erupted again, he refused to revoke the licences, prompting fierce criticism.

In response to the new report, a Government spokesperson said: “The UK maintains a rigorous and transparent arms export control system. All export licence applications for Israel are assessed on a case-by-case basis using robust criteria. We will only approve equipment which is for Israel’s legitimate self-defence and where we are satisfied it would be consistent with our human rights commitments and other international obligations.”

The Israeli Embassy in London declined to comment.

Those killed during the operation in Gaza included 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians. Israel said it launched its offensive in response to rocket attacks by Hamas.

This story was published by the Sunday Mail on 12th July 2015

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