UK court okays rights groups' fight to halt arms exports to Israel

UK court okays rights groups' fight to halt arms exports to Israel
The UK Royal Courts of Justice have approved Oxfam and Amnesty International's intervention in a case on arms sales to Israel.
2 min read
14 June, 2024
Israeli air strikes on Gaza have caused widespread destruction and levelled entire neighbourhoods [Getty]

The UK Royal Courts of Justice have approved Oxfam and Amnesty International's intervention in a case over the government approving arms sales to Israel.

The case is being brought by the UK-based Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and Al-Haq, an independent Palestinian rights organisation, with the support of the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP).

The groups have presented evidence that showed Israel is not complying with legal obligations that apply during armed conflict.

The rights organisations have called for the court to make an order requiring the Secretary of State for Business and Trade to suspend all licenses of weapons and military equipment exports to Israel for use in Gaza.

The judicial review hearing is expected to take place in October.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the UK had issued more than 100 arms export licenses to Israel between 7 October and 31 May.

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A report in The Guardian said government figures show 37 of the 108 licenses were described as military, 63 as non-military, however way include telecommunications equipment for use by the Israeli army. A further eight open licenses were granted.

Oxfam welcomed the court's decision to approve their intervention, highlighting they believe London is failing to meet its domestic and international legal obligations to ensure UK arms are not sold if there are risks of violating International Humanitarian Law.

"Morally, the UK should not be fuelling this onslaught by selling Israel more weapons. Instead, it should be using all the diplomatic leverage it has to push for an immediate and lasting ceasefire," Halima Begum, Oxfam's GB chief executive, said.

Yasmine Ahmed, the UK director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) also welcomed the Court's decision to allow them to intervene.

"In the face of Israel's ongoing crimes in Gaza, the UK government presents the farcical argument that it is lawful to continue sending arms to Israel on that basis that Israel is committed to complying with international law. Our evidence shows the exact opposite," she said in a statement.

Several international organisations and UK-based campaign groups have stated that Israel's use of military equipment in Gaza has caused the deaths of thousands of Palestinians and risks breaching international laws, calling for arms exports licenses to be suspended.

Over 37,266 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since 7 October, and an additional 85,102 have been wounded in the same time frame.