January 12 2009
A British company’s links to the Israeli military come under scrutiny, as pressure mounts on the government to curb arms sales to Tel Aviv.
UAV Engines, of Lichfield, Staffordshire, (known as UEL) is a world leading drone engine manufacturer that is owned by the Israel drone company Silver Arrow, which in turn, is a subsidiary of the Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems. reported.
According to The Guardian, one of UEL’s rotary Wankel engines is used in Elbit’s Hermes 450 drone, which carries out surveillance and targeting operations for Israel’s F-16 fighters in the current offensive against Gaza.
Reliable military news journals and Elbit’s own website suggest that the Lichfield factory produces engines for the Hermes, despite denials by Elbit’s head of corporate communications, Dalia Rosen.
“UEL engines are provided to the British UAV programs and to other international customers, not to Hermes 450 in the service of the IDF [Israeli military],” she said, rejecting all references given in support of the information.
Elbite denies the sales although arms sales records indicate that the export of ‘components for unmanned aerial vehicles’ to Israel has been authorized by the UK government.
Recently, many right groups and political figures have urged the UK government to stop the export of weapons to Israel, as the regime’s deadly attacks continue in the Gaza Strip, in violation of a UN Security Council resolution.
Last week, over a hundred lawmakers, from Britain’s three main parties, issued a statement, calling Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip as an outrage that should not be allowed by the international community, and urging an embargo on the supply of military equipment to both sides.
Campaigners against the arms trade also said that the sales must stop, citing the latest Foreign Office annual report on human rights, which raised ‘concerns over whether Israel’s use of lethal force has always been justifiable.’
“We have been particularly concerned that, in the course of Israeli Defence Forces operations, too little effort has been made to avoid civilian casualties. We are extremely concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza and remain committed to supporting the Palestinian people.”
In a soon to be released report, Amnesty International has also urged the British government to stop selling weapons to Israel.
“The UK should suspend all arms exports to Israel, including indirect exports via other countries and the sale of military components, until there is no longer a substantial risk that such equipment will be used for serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law,” says the UK campaigns director for Amnesty International Tim Hancock.
During the 17-days Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, over 900 Palestinians have lost their lives, while another 4080 have been wounded. According to Hamas records, 33 Israeli soldiers have also been killed.