The British Government is ‘complicit in war crimes’ for selling £7million-worth of military equipment to Israel just months before attacks on Gaza, claims a Manchester pro-Palestine group.
Manchester Palestine Action group made the declaration to MM in response to Oldham MP Debbie Abrahams demanding the Government explain the sale in Parliament yesterday.
Reports suggest that the sale of arms to Israel in the months before its offensive on Gaza this summer included components for drones, combat aircraft and helicopters along with spare parts for sniper rifles.
Official figures show that the Government granted 68 export licences for nearly £7 million-worth of military-use items to be sent to Israel between January and June of this year.
“It’s just not good enough that the Government won’t give straight answers to these questions,” Mrs Abrahams told ministers in the House of Commons.
“I raised the issue of the UK selling military equipment to Israel during the Gaza crisis and got a very unsatisfactory response from the Government that made no effort to explain why the Foreign Secretary or Business Secretary felt they were appropriate sales to make.
“The worst case scenario is that these weapons were used against the people of Gaza. I hope they weren’t but the public have the right to know why and how the government makes these decisions.”
Mohammed Ghalayini, from the Palestine Action group in Manchester, revealed that he was sickened by the way the Government had acted.
“The Government’s stance is shameful,” he told MM.
“They should be held to account, but they will just say ‘we sell weapons’. The Government should be more transparent about things like this.
“The support Israel gets from our country and other powers go quite a way to give Israel the backing for its human rights abuses and war crimes. If you’re supporting giving financial and military support to a country that’s performing such acts then you’re complicit in them and that is disgusting.”
The 35-year-old from Hulme has been greatly impacted by the war, with many of his Palestinian relatives having their homes destroyed in Gaza, while one attack killed nine members of his extended family.
He was in the war-zone during one of the first widespread Israeli attacks between 2002-2004 before fleeing the area.
“These arms sales make the UK Government complicit in the Israel’s human right abuses in Palestinian territories,” Mr Ghalayini said.
“It doesn’t surprise me though. The arms trade is big business and there’s a lot of money in it.
“It’s also disappointing, because the same manufacturing processes and skills that are used in manufacturing arms, could be put into making a powerful renewables industry.
“Instead of putting our industrial efforts into something productive, we’re putting it into something destructive.”
The Oldham East and Saddleworth MP also questioned why the Government refused to suspend export licences during the attacks over this summer.
But the Defence Minister, on behalf of the Government, responded: “The Government were concerned to look at any export licences that had been granted and undertook an initial review in August. We launched another review earlier this month and when it is available we will respond to the honourable lady.”
Image courtesy of Rusty Stewart, with thanks.