UK arms sales to Israel reach 'record levels': report

UK arms sales to Israel reach 'record levels': report
Defence firms have sold £350 million in military hardware to Israel over the past five years.
2 min read
Protest outside a UK government department over arms sales to Israel [Getty]
UK defence firms are selling record amounts of arms to Israel, according to newly released figures from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

Last year UK firms sold £221 million in arms to Israel, up 256 percent from the £86 million sold in 2016. That year's sales were also a significant increase on 2015's total of £20 million.

Included in those sales were sniper rifles, assault rifles, missiles and small arms ammunition. 

News of the record sale levels comes ahead of a visit by Prince William to Israel next month. Rights groups have criticised the wisdom of the official visit in light of Israel shooting dead more than 100 unarmed protesters along the Gaza separation wall earlier this month.

“After the appallingly excessive response of the Israeli security forces at the Gaza border, tensions in the occupied Palestinian territories are likely to be close to boiling point when Prince William makes this historic visit,” said Amnesty International's Kerry Moscogiuri.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said Israel's use of live fire against Palestinian protesters was "deeply troubling".

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn called earlier this month for a review of the UK's arms sales to Israel. 

CAAT's Andrew Smith said "by the government’s own admission, UK arms have been used time and again against Palestinians. Yet the arms sales have continued unabated". He added that there must be a "full investigation".

Rights groups and campaigners frequently criticise the UK's arms sales to countries with poor human rights records, including Israel.

Last month there were also protests against weapons sales to Saudi Arabia amid Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's official visit to the UK.

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