London – On the 8th of December a number of UK-based civil society groups have called on the British Government to halt arms transfers to the Government of Israel and the Israeli Defence Forces, effective immediately. This is as there is a clear risk that arms and military equipment transferred to Israel might be used to facilitate or commit serious violations of international law and attacks that amount to war crimes. Failure to stop arms transfers risks the UK Government breaching its own laws and international obligations and being complicit in grave abuses.
Under international and domestic law, the UK has an obligation to halt transfer of military equipment and technology where there is a risk that this equipment and technology is being used in a breach of international humanitarian law. This is a binding obligation outlined within Articles 6 and 7 of the International Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), and criteria one and two of the UK’s Strategic Export Licensing Criteria (SELC). The UK provides approximately 15% of the components in the F-35 stealth bomber aircraft currently being used in Gaza. There is clear evidence indicating collective punishment and other breaches of international law in Gaza. The UK must not be complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity through providing arms to Israel, facilitating the onslaught against innocent civilians.
At the time of writing, 17,000 Palestinians were estimated to have been killed so far in this war, approximately two-thirds of which are woman and children. Medical and healthcare facilities have been under constant attack, as well as bakeries, schools, and houses of worship. The Israeli authorities have also imposed a near-complete blockade on Gaza since the 9th of October, meaning people in Gaza have had next to no access to clean water, food, medical equipment, or humanitarian aid. As the risk of starvation, but also genocide, becomes more imminent it has become more and more pressing for the British government to act now and put a limit on its complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
This letter was sent by the UK-based civil society groups War on Want, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW), the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP), Welfare Association, Quakers in Britain, and Sabeel Kairos UK.
Notes to Editors:
- The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.
- For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson please contact the ICJP news desk at [email protected].