UK Sells $445 Million of Arms to Israel, Including Sniper Rifles

Britain has approved the sale of arms to the “Israeli” entity worth $445m since the 2014 Gaza war, including components for drones, combat aircraft and helicopters along with spare parts for sniper rifles, according to figures seen by Middle East Eye.

The government data will raise fresh concerns that British-made weapons are being used by the “Israeli” military in the Occupied Territories, amid fears that components in sniper rifles used to martyr scores of Palestinian civilians in recent weeks could have been made in the UK.

Arms export licenses to the “Israeli” entity soared to £216m, or $300m at current exchange rates, last year from £20m in the wake of the Gaza war, new Department for International Trade figures show.

They include a major £183m license covering “technology for military radars”, but ministers have also approved the sale for export of grenades, bombs, missiles, armored vehicles, assault rifles, small arms ammunition, sniper rifles and components for sniper rifles.

The value of arms approvals to the “Israeli” entity more than doubled last year after £86m in sales in 2016, prompting campaigners to warn that there is “little doubt” that UK-made weapons have been used in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade, or CAAT, which compiled the figures, expressed concern that UK-made radar technology could be used by “Israeli” jets and helicopters over the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

However, it is the scale of small arms sales that have prompted fears UK-made sniper rifle components and targeting scopes may have been used by the “Israeli” military on the Gaza border.

According to MEE, Labor MP Richard Burden, the chairman of the British-Palestine group in parliament, said that given the risk of weapons being used for “internal repression” in Gaza and the besieged West Bank he was “alarmed by the scale of UK arms exports to ‘Israel’ in recent years”.

He added that he will be “pressing” ministers to launch an investigation into whether UK arms have been used in “the current ‘Israeli’ military operations on the Gaza border”.

Palestinian officials said at least 40 people had been martyred by “Israeli” forces since the start of a six-week protest at the “Israeli” occupation, dubbed the Great March of Return, earlier this month.

The shootings prompted international outcry after it emerged “Israeli” snipers who shot Palestinians had positioned themselves alongside the Gaza security fence, with orders allowing them to shoot unarmed Palestinians who came within 100 yards.

The violence prompted Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn to call for a review of arms sales to the “Israeli” entity in a message condemning its “illegal and inhumane” killing and wounding of “yet more unarmed Palestinian protesters”.

Corbyn also called for the UK to support calls for an “independent and transparent” UN inquiry into the shootings and called for a review of the sale of UK-made arms that “could be used in violation of international law”.

Andrew Smith, a spokesman for CAAT, told MEE, “By continuing to arm ‘Israeli’ forces the UK isn’t just making itself complicit in future attacks, it is sending a message of support for the collective punishment that has been inflicted.”

Critics of the British arms trade say that sale of weapons to the entity also stands in stark contrast to Foreign Office warnings in its most recent annual human rights report that the entity’s occupation policies continue to violate the “human rights of Palestinians”.

There were renewed calls for a halt to arms sales during the Gaza conflict in 2014, which resulted in the deaths of more than 2,200 Palestinian. The then-prime minister, David Cameron, said all export licenses would be reviewed.

However, all restrictions on arms sales to the “Israeli” entity were dropped in 2015 following a 12-month review, in which the government admitted UK-made weapons may have been used in the 2014 bombardment of Gaza.

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