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THE government has licensed more than £320 million of arms bound for Israel since the 2014 bombing assault of Gaza in which more than 2,000 Palestinian people died, it was revealed today.
Licences for components for drones, combat aircraft, helicopters, and spare parts for sniper rifles are included on the new list compiled by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) from the Department of International Trade.
Thirty-two unarmed Palestinian protesters have been shot dead and thousands wounded by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) with such rifles in recent weeks as soldiers have repeatedly fired on peaceful demonstrations along the Gaza border.
The total value of arms licensed to Israel has increased tenfold over the past three years. In 2015, in the wake of the bombing, the amount was £20 million. In 2017 this figure jumped to £216m.
The overall figure includes £183m for “technology for military radars,” licences granted by the government last year.
Andrew Smith of CAAT said that the British government should be seeking a way to resolve the long-running oppression of Palestinians rather than be complicit in their killing.
He said: “The appalling scenes we have seen over recent weeks are yet another stark reminder of the repression and abuse that Palestinians are living under every day.
“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.”
A Stop the War spokesman said that the government should end all arms sales to Israel immediately. He said: “Quite simply, it’s £320 million too much.
“The shocking footage of Gazans being brutally murdered while peacefully protesting in recent weeks highlights the continuation of a pattern of brutality that has continued for far too long.
“It is a pattern in which the UK has been completely duplicitous.”
Palestinian officials say that at least 40 people have been killed by the IDF since the start of a six-week protest against the Israeli occupation known as the Great Return March.
It has emerged that Israeli snipers have been positioned alongside the Gaza security fence with orders allowing them to shoot unarmed Palestinians who come within 100 yards.
The violence has prompted British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to call for an independent and transparent UN inquiry into the shootings and a review of arms sales to Israel in a message condemning the country’s “illegal and inhumane” killing and wounding of protesters.
In 2014 during a Commons debate on arms sales to Israel, the Conservatives’ Baroness Warsi resigned from the government over its “morally indefensible” position on the conflict.
A review by government at the time found 12 licences for arms likely to have been used in the 2014 war.
A Department for International Trade spokesman said: “The UK government takes its export control responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust export-control regimes in the world.
“We rigorously examine every application on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, with risks around human rights abuses being a key part of that process.
“We will not grant a licence if doing so would be inconsistent with these criteria and will suspend or revoke licences when the level of risk changes.”
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