March 29 2010
A group of British lawmakers will call on Tuesday for a review of the way arms deals to Israel are approved, after the government admitted British equipment was “almost certainly” used during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, British media reported.
The British daily The Guardian quoted a House of Commons report on strategic exports controls, which stated, “it is regrettable that arms exports to Israel were almost certainly used in Operation Cast Lead [the attack on Gaza].
“This is in direct contravention to the UK government’s policy that UK arms exports to Israel should not be used in the occupied territories,” the report read.
Those MPs making the call for a review said they welcomed the British government’s decision to revoke five export licenses for equipment “destined to the Israeli navy,” the daily wrote, with lawmakers adding that “broader lessons” must be learned from such a review to “ensure British arms exports to Israel are not used in the occupied territories in the future.”
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told the House of Commons following Israel’s devastating assault on the Gaza Strip between December 2008 and January 2009 that left some 1,400 Palestinians dead, that all future arms exports to Israel “will be assessed taking into account the recent conflict,” adding that Israeli equipment used during its war on the coastal enclave likely used British-supplied parts such as cockpit displays in US F16 combat aircraft, fire control and radar systems, navigation and engine assemblies for US Apache helicopters, the daily reported.
Additionally, arms sold to Israel included parts for guns and radar in Israeli Sa’ar-class corvettes which took part in the operation, and armored personnel carriers adapted from Centurion tanks sold to Israel in the 1950s.
The government-approved exports to Israel are estimated to be over 27.5 million British pounds for 2008, the House of Common’s report said, with various governmental departments approving nearly 4 million British pounds worth of export licenses for weapons and equipments with both military and civil use in the nine months following the attack on Gaza, The Guardian reported.
“Though this suggests a significant drop, the figures show Britain was continuing to sell Israel a wide range of military equipment, including small-arms ammunition and parts for sniper rifles,” the daily added.
Approved exports include remote ground-sensors, electronic warfare equipment “components for snipers,” “small arms ammunition” and “test equipment for recognition/identification equipment,” the report said.
The report further revealed that the British government decided to revoke a number of arms sales’ licenses to Sri Lanka, saying it regreted that British arms were sold during the ceasefire periods in the conflict with the Tamil Tiger rebels.
The call for a review on the way the British government approves arms deals with Israel follows their decision to expel an Israeli diplomat over the use of forged UK passports in an alleged Israeli hit of a Hamas leader in Dubai in January.