Oxfam chief blasts UK position on arms sales as 'morally incoherent'

Oxfam chief blasts UK position on arms sales as 'morally incoherent'
Hamima Begum's comments come following a work trip to Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories where she heard testimony about conditions in Gaza.
2 min read
16 June, 2024
Oxfam has been allowed to intervene in a judicial review of UK arms sales to Israel [Getty]

Oxfam's UK chief has slammed the UK governments position on arms sales to Israel as the organisation is set to intervene in a judicial review of the governments policy.

Halima Begum told The Guardian that "the government can't simultaneously give humanitarian aid and talk about its aspirations for peace in the region, then also ship bombs - it's intellectually and morally incoherent".

She further questioned why the UK was "knowingly sell weapons that are being used to kill thousands of innocent children and their parents".

Israel's war on Gaza, which has been ongoing since Hamas 7 October attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and took 250 captives, has killed 37,337 Palestinians, with a further 85,299 wounded.

Begum added that arms suspensions to Israel had historical precedent, recalling both the UK's and US's decision to halt arms exports to Israel during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon, and said the government "still can't constrain the Israeli military".

"It defies belief we'd support this action," she said.

Begum's interview followed a trip to Israel and the occupied West Bank, where she heard first-hand accounts of Israel's war on Gaza from colleagues evacuated from the enclave that left her "shell shocked".

Government figures reveal that between 7 October and 31 May, the UK issued 108 arms export licenses to Israel, of which 37 were described as military and 63 as non-military.

The granting of licenses has led Palestinian human rights organisations Al-Haq and Global Legal Action Network to bring forth a judicial review case against the sale of arms to Israel.

On Thursday Oxfam was granted permission to intervene in the case, with Begum welcoming the decision and called on the government to suspend arms sales to Israel and to push for a permanent ceasefire.