UK granted over 100 arms export licences to Israel since Gaza war

UK granted over 100 arms export licences to Israel since Gaza war
Figures from the UK government show that 108 arms export licences were granted to Israel since its indiscriminate war on Gaza began last October.
2 min read
12 June, 2024
Campaigners have protested the continued provision of arms to Israel by UK-based companies [Getty]

The UK has granted 108 arms export licences to Israel throughout its indiscriminate war on Gaza, new figures from the UK government have revealed.

The figures showed that no application for an arms export licence was rejected due to the war, which began on October 7 last year following a surprise Hamas attack on Israel.

UK ministers have refused calls throughout the war to stop exporting arms to Israel, saying that this was in line with legal advice.

However, UK and international NGOs have constantly said that Israel’s conduct in Gaza was likely to be a violation of international humanitarian law.

Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip has completely devastated the territory, with hospitals, schools and residential areas targeted and destroyed.

At least 37,164 people in Gaza have been killed in the assault, most of them women and children, and over 84,000 have been injured.

Key facts
Some MPs have raised concerns about UK arms exports to Israel over risk of violating international humanitarian law
The UK has decided not to suspend existing licences or stop granting licences for export of arms to Israel
The SNP and the Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to suspend export licences to Israel
Other organisations, such as Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and Saferworld, are also calling on halting arms exports
Since 2008, the UK has licenced arms worth over £574 million to Israel

37 of the 108 arms export licences granted by the UK government after October 7 were military while 63 were non-military, The Guardian reported.

There are currently 345 licences to sell arms to Israel, most of them issued before 7 October.

Emily Apple, from the Campaign against the Arms Trade, said that the figures issued by the government lacked detail, and did not reveal the value or category of the export licences.

The UK government’s Business Department issued the figures in response to “exceptional parliamentary interest”, according to The Guardian.

Compared to arms supplies from the US, the UK’s provision of weapons to Israel is relatively minor. However, campaigners highlighted that the exports send a message that the UK does not believe that Israel is breaking international law in its war on Gaza.

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In 2022, the UK granted £42 million worth of export licences to Israel and the figure for 2023 is due to be published soon.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have said that they are seeking to join a case calling for a judicial review into UK arms sales to Israel which was started by Global Legal Action Network and the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq.

On Monday, it was revealed that British drones had been assisting Israel in its attempts to find captives held by Hamas in Gaza.