Equipment used in Gaza contained UK-supplied components
In a Ministerial Statement on 21 April 2009, then Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary David Miliband admitted that Israeli equipment used in Gaza “almost certainly” contained UK-supplied components. He cited F16 combat aircraft, Apache attack helicopters, Saar-Class corvettes and armoured personnel carriers.
The following day, quizzed by the Commons’ Committees on Arms Export Controls, junior Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell said no licences for components for the F16s, helicopters or armoured personnel carriers had been approved since the war on the Lebanon in 2006. On 13 July 2009 the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that licences for parts for the Saar corvettes had been revoked. The UK embassy in Israel confirmed this had been done following the Foreign Secretary’s statement.
Campaign Postcard & Factsheet
That licences for key equipment being used by Israel are no longer being approved does not lessen the urgent need for a total embargo on all military equipment sales destined for Israel, including components. Such an embargo would send a strong message of disapproval of Israel’s actions. It would also facilitate informed debate within as the UK and parliamentarians and the public would know what the situation is.
Stop Arming Israel was set up in 2006 by CAAT, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and War on Want to campaign for an embargo on sales of military equipment to and from Israel.
A Stop Arming Israel postcard to send to MPs is available to order free from claire[at]caat.org.uk, along with a 2-page factsheet. You can also download the factsheet (pdf, 4.12mb).
These examples do not include components that go into US-built equipment destined for Israel. In July 2002, the UK government approved the export of components for F-16 fighters being made by the US company Lockheed Martin and sold to Israel. Then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw justified the sales saying: “The Government has judged that the UK’s security and defence relationship with the US is fundamental to the UK’s national security … Defence collaboration with the US is also key to maintaining a strong defence industrial capacity.”
He went on “Any interruption to the supply of these components would have serious implications for the UK’s defence relations with the United States.” In other words, the commercial relationship between BAE Systems and US companies such as Lockheed Martin was judged more important than the lives of Palestinians.
Israel has used F-16 fighter aircraft and Apache combat helicopters to bomb Lebanese and Palestinian towns and villages. These have contained UK manufactured components including missile triggering systems for Apaches and Head-Up Displays for F-16s.
The UK continues to sell arms to Israel despite the UN stating that Israel “violates humanitarian law” and even though the UK’s own “Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria” are supposed to assess the impact on regional peace, security and stability and the human rights record of the recipient.
More information on UK companies known to have supplied military equipment to Israel.
Israel’s own arms industry.
A Caterpillar military bulldozer destroys Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories. Picture taken by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
Israel’s military sector is made up of over 200 public and private companies, dominated by three state-owned ones: Israel Aircraft Industries (Israel’s biggest employer outside government), Israel Military Industries and Rafael. Private company Elbit Systems is also significant.
The UK spends millions of pounds each year on ‘battle-tested’ arms from Israeli companies, including 2,000 cluster shells that were used in the battle for Basra in 2003. Major Israeli arms companies Elbit Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries were exhibiting their wares at the UK’s Farnborough arms fair in July 2006, even while Lebanon was being bombed.
Stop Arms Sales to and from Israel
Because Israel is now such a major exporter as well as importer of arms, CAAT is calling for an embargo on the sale of all UK equipment to and purchases from Israel as well as the breaking off of all military contacts. This would send a strong message to the Israeli government that its actions are totally unacceptable.
Construction company Caterpillar sells its D9 military bulldozer to Israel, which then uses it for Palestinian house demolition, and infrastructure and olive grove destruction. Palestinians are often killed in these operations. CAAT therefore also supports the consumer boycott of Caterpillar until it stops selling bulldozers to Israel.