UK to Review Arms Sales to Israel

  @diplomatist10 on August 06 2014 9:52 AM
Palestinians sleep at a United Nations school, where people who fled heavy Israeli shelling in the Shejaia neighbourhood sought refuge during fighting,
Palestinians sleep at a United Nations school, where people who fled heavy Israeli shelling in the Shejaia neighbourhood sought refuge during fighting, in Gaza City July 21, 2014. Israeli forces killed at least 10 Palestinian militants on Monday after they crossed the border from Gaza through two tunnels, the military said, as the death toll from the two-week conflict passed 500. The overnight raids lifted the Palestinian death toll to 484, mostly civilians, since fighting started on July 8. Israel says 18 of its soldiers have also died along with two civilians.

No matter it is ceasefire or war time, the British government has decided to take a call on reviewing arms sales to Israel. The Downing Street has ordered a review of all the export licences in the aftermath of the Gaza assault that killed 1,700 Palestinians. An official spokesman of the PM's office confirmed that the government is getting ready to review all the export licences to Israel

According to the Mirror UK report, last year the British government approved export of missile parts and drone components worth £7.8 billion, to Israel. Only recently the UK government approved applications for military licences from companies seeking to deliver components for the Hermes drone largely used in the reconnaissance missions of the Israeli air force.

The UK arms exports to Israel included missile-targeting equipments, gun sightings and drone components. Israel also runs an indigenous arms industry with more than 200 companies operating there.  The UK not only sells weapons to Israel but also provides the components for weapons. Israel has used F-16 fighter aircraft and Apache combat helicopters in bombarding Lebanese and Palestinian towns inhabited by civilians.

Cryptographic software

The contracts which will come under review will be mostly of cryptographic software and military communications and other weapon parts. The review comes after Prime Minister David Cameron's harsh comments that endorsed the UN statement condemning the shelling of UN schools.

Companies worried

The £42 million of arms exports are managed by 130 British companies including the firms who are supplying components for the Hermes drone and Israel's main battle tank.

In July, Tobias Ellwood, Foreign Office minister had said the United Kingdom does not believe in imposing a blanket arms embargo on Israel as a means of progress in the Middle East peace process. Ellwood, however, noted that all countries, including Israel, have a right to self-defence and defend its citizens from attack. But in doing so, care must be taken that action is in line with international humanitarian laws avoiding civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, Justine Greening, International Development Secretary, said the UK would provide an extra £2million in emergency assistance for thousands of Gaza families who fled the conflict.

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