The Government has been accused of failing to regulate arms sales to Israel following evidence that weapons containing British-made components are being used in the bombardment of Gaza.
Documents shown to The Independent reveal that arms export licences worth £42m have been granted to 130 British defence manufacturers since 2010 to sell military equipment to Israel. These range from weapons control and targeting systems to ammunition, drones and armoured vehicles.
Among the manufacturers given permission to make sales were two UK companies supplying components for the Hermes drone, described by the Israeli air force as the “backbone” of its targeting and reconnaissance missions. One of the two companies also supplies components for Israel’s main battle tank.
The Hermes drone has been widely used during Operation Protective Edge, the ongoing Israeli military action in Gaza, to monitor Palestinians and guided missile strikes. The situation in the Occupied Territory deteriorated further today when a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire collapsed within hours amid further shelling and the capture of an Israeli soldier.
The Foreign Office said on Friday night it was investigating reports that Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23, was British born.
The Government said that it would review all outstanding export licences to Israel. But politicians and campaigners called on ministers to establish definitively whether whether UK-manufactured weapons or components have been used by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in Gaza since hostilities began three weeks ago.
Labour MP Katy Clark told The Independent: “By refusing to investigate this vital question the British Government are trying to bury their heads in the sand. This is a shameful approach to take and frankly makes the Government look as if it has something to hide.
“The British public have the right to know the level of support which the United Kingdom has provided to the Israeli armed forces through arms sales.”
In 2009, the Foreign Secretary David Miliband said some IDF equipment used in a previous, heavily criticised offensive in Gaza that year had “almost certainly” contained British-supplied components and vowed all future export applications would take this into account.
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