The British government was accused of double standards over arms sales to Russia and Israel .
The latest document revealed that officials have approved a massive increase in weaponry to be sold to Russia to more than £130m.
MPs warn that at least 251 export licences for the sale of controlled goods – ranging from sniper rifles to night sights – remain in place despite a call from Prime Minister David Cameron for other countries, in particular France, to halt lucrative arms deals with Moscow. In the case of Israel, the Britain has issued 400 licences.
Downing Street insisted that any arms licences granted for equipment to the Russian military had been suspended in the wake of the MH17 disaster after Mr Cameron singled out French President Francois Hollande’s refusal to call off a £1bn deal to sell Moscow two helicopter carriers.
The increasingly acrimonious war of words between London and Paris over sales of military hardware to Moscow deepened last night when the head of Mr Hollande’s Socialist ruling party called Mr Cameron a “hypocrite”.
The increase of 52 per cent in the last 12 months took place despite Britain’s increasingly strident criticism of Russian support – including the supply of arms – for Ukrainian separatists, who have now been blamed for the killing of 298 people on board flight MH17.
In another development, Arab Organization for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) calls upon the British government to take a legal and moral stand vis-à-vis the Israeli crimes against innocent civilians in Gaza by suspending all military contracts with the Israeli government.
A British arms export controls parliamentary committee’s annual report published revealed that more than 3,000 current export licenses for arms and military equipment worth more than £12bn were approved for 27 countries classified by the Foreign Office as “of concern” because of their poor human rights record but that no measures have been taken to rescind these contracts.
According to the report, Israel received the bulk of this equipment, valued at nearly £8bn in the form of 400 export licenses. Weapons include components for body armour, parts for “all-wheel drive vehicles with ballistic protection”, assault rifles, pistols, military support vehicles, crowd-control ammunition, a spare parts for tanks, and F16 and Apache fighter jets, and combat drones.
In 2005, the British ministry of defense granted U-TacS, a Leicester-based company, a license to manufacture Wachkeeper (WK450) combat drones. U-TacS’s parent companies are Elbit Systems Ltd, an Israeli company, and Thales UK Ltd. The value of the contract was one billion pounds. In 2010, the ministry of defense signed with Elbit Systems Ltd. a contract worth 70 million pounds for maintenance services, training and logistical support. Britain had signed a contract to rent Hermes and Heron combat drones for use in Afghanistan.
On the 21st of April 2009, the then secretary of state David Miliband admitted in an official statement that the equipment Israel used in attacking Gaza during Operation Cast Lead 200-2009 “almost certainty’ had components manufactured in the UK. He added that equipment used in the attack on Gaza contained British-supplied components included in cockpit displays in US F-16 combat aircraft sold to Israel, and components for the fire control and radar systems, navigation equipment and engine assemblies for US Apache.
He also admitted that the equipment also included armored personnel carriers adapted from Centurion tanks sold to Israel in the late 1950s and components for the 76mm guns and radar in Israeli Sa’ar-class corvettes which took part in the operation in addition to supplying Israeli reconnaissance satellites used in preparing for the attack with British components.
None of the abovementioned contracts has been suspended even following Operation Cast Lead and Operation Pillar of Cloud on Gaza and the current operation, nicknamed Protective Edge, thus confirming that the British government is in stark violation of the rules that govern arms sales to countries which breach human rights.
It ought to be mentioned that 17 companies with headquarters or branches in the UK provide Israel with spare parts for F16 and Apache fighter jets, tanks, naval ships, and other military and security equipment. F16 and naval ships with components manufactured in the UK have so far killed 223 Palestinians during the most recent offensive on Gaza, 46 of them children, 26 women and 14 elderly people. The rest were innocent civilian men. The random attacks have also injured 1887 Palestinians, many of them remain in critical condition, in addition to destroying 1800 homes and 89 public buildings.
Arab Organization for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) calls upon the British government to take a legal and moral stand vis-à-vis the Israeli crimes against innocent civilians in Gaza by suspending all military contracts with the Israeli government.
AOHR UK considers the British government’s decision to continue to supply Israel with military technology which is then used to murder innocent civilians a breach of all human rights laws and could mean that British officials are complicit in the crimes against humanity committed by Israel. AOHR UK also urges EU countries to suspend all military deals with Israel especially Israel’s participation in the Horizon 2020 military and security research programme sponsored by the EU at a cost of 80 billion Euros.