A Comprehensive Count: How Many Weapons Does the UK Export to Israel Annually?

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The UK government is under pressure again to halt its arms exports to Israel amid allegations of violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) following the October 7 attacks by Hamas.

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Global leaders sharply criticized the Israeli government on April 2 after seven aid workers were killed in a targeted airstrike in Gaza. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) acknowledged the tragedy of their deaths, stating they were unintentional.

Since October, the death toll of aid workers in Israel has reached 203, as per the Aid Worker Security Database.

Reacting to these events, a spokesperson for Rishi Sunak expressed the prime minister’s horror, emphasizing the unacceptable loss of life among aid workers and civilians in Gaza.

Subsequently, over 600 lawyers penned an open letter to the UK government, urging the cessation of weapons export licenses to Israel from UK firms.

Signed by figures including former Supreme Court president Lady Hale, the letter accuses the UK of failing to meet its international law obligations.

The Liberal Democrats and SNP have demanded a halt on military exports, and Labour has stated such measures would be necessary if evidence suggests Israel violated international law.

The UK government has yet to respond to requests to disclose the legal advice it reportedly received on this matter.

From 2022 to June 2023, the UK sanctioned nearly £57m in military goods for export to Israel, reports the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). This includes 151 “standard” licenses for items like aircraft and drones (£19m), armored vehicles and tanks (£10m), and grenades and missiles (£3m).

Since 2015, the UK’s military exports to Israel have amounted to £487m.

In the wake of the April 2 aid convoy attack, CAAT highlighted that the drone involved could have contained a component made in Britain.

CAAT spokesperson Emily Apple condemned the UK government, asserting it shares responsibility for the deaths of UK aid workers in Gaza due to its refusal to impose an arms embargo.

The provided figures do not account for “open” licenses, which place no limits on the quantity or value of the exports. CAAT notes that UK contributions account for up to 15% of the value of Israel’s F-35 aircraft, which are employed in airstrikes.

Data on exports post-June 2023 has yet to be published by the government.

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