On 13 July the UK government announced that it had revoked five arms export licences to Israel, reportedly on the grounds that the exports breached “Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria”.
These criteria state that arms exports should not be used for “internal repression” (although Gaza and the West Bank are not Israeli territory). These and other arms export licensing criteria have generally been ignored in relation to Israel, up till now.
The government admitted months ago that UK arms exports to Israel were used against civilians in the assault on Gaza in January 2009. In 2008, the government approved around £30 million worth of arms licences to Israel, mainly for “naval equipment”. This includes spare parts for guns on the Sa’ar ships which fired into Gaza. In April, foreign secretary David Miliband admitted that Israeli weapons had “almost certainly” contained UK-supplied equipment.
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) welcomed the revocations but regards the response as inadequate. CAAT is calling for an immediate military embargo of all UK equipment destined for Israel (directly and via the US), together with an end to all other military collaboration.