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News > World

UK Sold Israel $445M in Arms, Including Sniper Rifles likely used Against Gaza Protesters

  • Israeli snipers along the Israel-Gaza border.

    Israeli snipers along the Israel-Gaza border. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 April 2018

Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a review of arms sales after use of lethal force against Palestinian protesters in the Great March of Return.

Since 2014 the United Kingdom has sold US$445 million worth of arms to Israel, including sniper rifles that could be used today along the Gaza-Israeli border, where Israeli soldiers have shot dead at least 39 Palestinians participating in the Great March of Return, including a teen and a journalist. 

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According to figures of the U.K. Department for International Trade, U.K. arms export licences have soared from US$28 million in 2015 to US$300 million in 2017, Middle East Eye (MEE) reported.

Arms sales to Israel have increased tenfold since the 2014 military assault of Gaza during which 2,220 Palestinians were killed.

Licenses include one for US$255 million covering "technology for military radars", but also grenades, bombs, missiles, armoured vehicles, assault rifles, small arms ammunition, sniper rifles and components for sniper rifles.

Labor MP Richard Burden, chairman of the British-Palestine group in parliament, told MEE he was "alarmed by the scale of U.K. arms exports to Israel in recent years," prompting him to pressure other MPs to start an investigation on "the current Israeli military operations on the Gaza border".

Members of the United Nations Security Council have attempted to launch an investigation on the situation in Gaza twice, but resolutions have been blocked by the United States.  

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The use of lethal force by Israeli snipers against unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, and its endorsement by high-ranking military officials, including Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, have drawn international condemnation.   

In the U.K. Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned the "illegal and inhumane" killing of “unarmed Palestinian protesters," and called for a review of his country's arms sales to Israel.

Israeli use of U.K.-made arms in occupied Palestinian territory has been denounced since 2009, when the commons committee on arms exports reported U.K. arms were "almost certainly" used by Israel in Operation Cast Lead that resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 Gazans.   

Andrew Smith, spokesman for the U.K.-based Campaign Against the Arms Trade, told MEE: "By continuing to arm Israeli forces the U.K. isn't just making itself complicit in future attacks, it is sending a message of support for the collective punishment that has been inflicted.”

The civil society-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a nonviolent initiative launched in 2005 to end the Israeli occupation and demand the right to return of over 5 million Palestinian refugees, has called for a two-way arms embargo since 2011 to block arms exports and imports from Israel.

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