UK reviews £8b arms exports to Israel as violence rises

Britain is reconsidering the sale of £8b in military defence exports to Israel as conflict in Gaza intensifies, a statement from Downing Street said yesterday.

Since 2010, 130 UK defence manufacturers have been granted arms export licenses amassing £42m to export military equipment to Israel.

Ammunition, drones, armoured vehicles, targeting systems, bullet-proof attire and naval gun parts are some of the kit included.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “We are currently reviewing all existing export licences to Israel. All applications for export licences are assessed on a case by case basis against strict criteria.

“We will not issue a licence if there is a clear risk that the equipment might be used for internal repression, or if there is a clear risk that it would provoke or prolong conflict.”

Andrew George, a Liberal Democrat MP, called for a Royal Navy hospital ship moored in Falmouth to be sent to Gaza to provide extra medical facilities: “Israel continues to bombard Gaza and restrict the flow of essential medical supplies and humanitarian relief.

“A humanitarian crisis in Gaza must be intolerable, with people unable to get out and effective relief barely able to get in.

“The UK should not just sit back and do nothing. Britain should be at the forefront of the humanitarian response to the tragic events in Gaza.

“By deploying RFA Argus, we would offer a symbol of action and support from the UK via Cornwall towards the citizens of Gaza severely affected by Israel’s military response.”