Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is accusing the UK government and arms industry of complicity in war crimes committed by the Israeli government.
UK industry provides 15% of the components for the F35 stealth combat aircraft that Israel is currently using in the bombardment of Gaza. CAAT estimates that since 2016, the contract for the components is worth £336m.
CAAT is demanding the government re voke all licences for arms exports, and is backing the calls from Palestinian trade unions for workers to refuse to build or export weapons to Israel. At least 2,850 Palestinians have been killed by the recent Israeli bombardments, including 1000 children. Thousands more have been injured, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced with fears of a mounting humanitarian disaster.
Between 2018 and 2022, the UK exported £146m in arms sales via Single Issue Export Licences. However, a large proportion of the military equipment exported is via Open General Export Licences.
These open licences, which include the F35 components, lack transparency and allow for unlimited quantities and value of exports of the specified equipment without further monitoring.
Emily Apple, CAAT’s Media Coordinator stated:
“While there has rightly been worldwide condemnation of Hamas’ attack on civilians, there has not been the same condemnation of Israel’s targeting of civilians in Gaza. There should be no hierarchy when it comes to the killing of civilians. However in continuing to arm Israel, this government is showing that it does not value Palestinian lives.
“Through its arms sales, and particularly through the supply of components for the F35s, the UK is complicit in war crimes in Gaza. The situation in Gaza is catastrophic and is only set to get worse. The only people profiting from this escalation in conflict are arms dealers. BAE Systems, one of the companies involved in producing the F35s, has seen its share prices reach a record high.
“It’s time to take a stand and show that the UK values all civilian lives by immediately revoking all arms exports to Israel.”
- Information regarding the use of F35s in the bombardment of Gaza – Configuration And Payload Of The Aircraft Employed By Israel In The Fight Against Hamas – The Aviationist.
- According to the SIPRI Arms Transfer Database, Israel has ordered a total of 50 F-35s from the US, of which 36 have so far been delivered, up to the end of 2022. According to the detailed delivery database,114 a total of 6 were delivered in 2022. While the value of UK companies’ F-35 contracts with the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, are not known, based on the 15% workshare and the estimated $80m a plane unit cost of the F-35, this would suggest that each aircraft involves around $12 million to UK industry. This would imply a value of $72 million (£58m) for total UK deliveries of F-35s to Israel in 2022, far higher than the value of Single Issue Export Licences, and around $432 million (approx. £336m.) since deliveries began in 2016.
- For more information on UK arms sales to Israel see CAAT – Annual Report: UK Arms Exports in 2022and CAAT – Israel.
- BAE Systems share prices reach record high – 13/10/23 – BAE shares just hit a record high! Buy, sell, or hold? (yahoo.com).
- Statement from Palestinian trade unions. click here.
*Article originally published in Dorset Eye.