How many weapons does the UK export to Israel?

Latest figures show that the UK has allowed nearly £57m of military exports to Israel since 2022

Albert Toth
Thursday 09 May 2024 09:16
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Sunak claims he told Netanyahu the situation in Gaza is 'intolerable'

The UK government is facing renewed calls to stop exporting weapons to Israel after Joe Biden has warned it will stop suppling some weapons to the country if it launches a major ground operation in the Gaza city of Rafah.

The US president told CNN: “If they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah.”

Israel has already launched strikes on the congested city on the southern border of Gaza amid confusion around a potential ceasefire agreement.

An estimated 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering in the city which borders egypt, which the Israeli army describes as the last Hamas stronghold. Experts have warned that a full-scale assault of the region could be disastrous, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has calling the situation a “humanitarian nightmare”.

The Israeli government was heavy criticised by world leaders on April 2 following the killings of seven aid workers in a targeted air strike in Gaza. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) accepted responsibility for their deaths, claiming they were unintentional.

The attack brought the number of aid workers killed in Israel since October to 203, according to the Aid Worker Security Database.

A vehicle with the logo of the World Central Kitchen wrecked by an Israeli airstrike in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, April 2 (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Responding to the events, a spokesperson for Rishi Sunak said the prime minister was “appalled” and believes “too many aid workers and ordinary civilians have lost their lives in Gaza and the situation is increasingly intolerable.”

In the days following, more than 600 lawyers co-signed an open letter to the UK government calling for them to suspend weapons export licences that currently allow arms to be sold to Israel from UK-based companies. Mr Sunak’s government has not yet responded to the criticisms.

Here’s everything you need to know about the UK’s weapon exports to Israel:

How many weapons does the UK export to Israel?

The UK has approved almost £57m worth of military goods for export to Israel from 2022 to June 2023, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

This comprises 151 “standard” licences – including £19m for aircraft, helicopters and drones – £10m for armoured vehicles and tanks, and £3m for grenades, bombs, missiles and countermeasures.

Since 2015, the total value of the UK’s military exports to Israel stands at £487m.

An Israeli Air Force F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft, April 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)

Following the April 2 aid convoy strike, CAAT have claimed the drone that was used could have been powered by a British-made engine component.

CAAT spokesperson Emily Apple said: “This government is complicit in the murder of UK aid workers in Gaza. It has had every opportunity to impose an arms embargo and has refused to do so.”

These figures exclude “open” licences, which do not limit the quantity or value of exports. The CAAT says that UK sources supply Israel up to 15 per cent of the value of their F-35 planes which are used in airstrikes.

The government is yet to release export data which covers the period after June 2023.

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