Arms companies warned they could face prosecution if they continue selling arms to Israel    

London, 20th June 2024- Letters have been sent by four organisations to the directors of UK arms companies warning them they could face criminal liability if they continue selling military equipment to Israel.

Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), War on Want, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) signed the letter that gives the companies notice of potential criminal liability for atrocity crimes currently taking place in Gaza. These letters are addressed to directors of twenty arms companies, whose UK operations are known to contribute to the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet programme; the F-35 has been heavily used by Israel in its current assault on Gaza.

The letter sets out in detail the legal frameworks governing the provision of material assistance to a party accused of war crimes, supported by reference to extensive evidence of the grave violations of international law that Israel has committed in Gaza. The legal frameworks which expose these directors to criminal liability include the provisions of the Rome Statute (1998), incorporated into UK domestic law through the International Criminal Court Act (2001), under which unequivocal criminal consequences exist for complicity in such war crimes and crimes against humanity.

GLAN and Al-Haq are already taking legal action against the UK government over its refusal to suspend arms exports to Israel despite overwhelming evidence that it is violating international humanitarian law in its onslaught in Gaza. However, as the letter points out, it’s not only the government that could face legal action as companies themselves also have a legal duty to comply with international law. 

UK rules demand that where there is a clear risk weapons could be used in unlawful attacks exports must be stopped. Israel has so far killed over 15,000 children, with potential use of British made weapons; these letters make it clear that we will be pursuing criminal accountability for companies complicit in the ongoing atrocity crimes in Gaza.

GLAN Senior lawyer, Dearbhla Minogue said, “Individuals transferring weapons to Israel are exposed to criminal liability, plain and simple. The fact that they are hiding behind a licensing system which is unfit for purpose will not protect them if and when they face a jury of their peers, because ordinary people can see through politicians’ obfuscation.”

War on Want’s Senior Campaigner, Neil Sammonds, said, “There is nowhere to hide for a company director choosing to provide weaponry to a state whose leaders have made clear their intent not to comply with international law and whose armed forces commit atrocity after atrocity. There was already apartheid, forced transfer and collective punishment. Now there is starvation, extermination and plausible genocide. The directors have enabled and profited from this. They are complicit and must be held accountable.”

CAAT’s Media Coordinator Emily Apple said, “The arms companies targeted with these letters are complicit in genocide and are profiting from the horrific war crimes Israel is committing in Gaza. As this letter makes it clear, they cannot hide behind the government’s woeful response, and there will be consequences if they fail to take action”.


Notes to editors: 

A copy of the letter is available on request. Spokespeople are available from GLAN, CAAT and ICJP for further comment.

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is a UK-based organisation working to end the international arms trade. The arms business has a devastating impact on human rights and security, and damages economic development. In seeking to end the arms trade, CAAT’s priorities are to stop the procurement or export of arms where they might exacerbate conflict or support an oppressive regime, and to promote progressive demilitarisation within arms-producing countries. caat.org.uk Contact: Emily Apple [email protected].

Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) is a U.K.-based legal non-profit organisation with offices in the U.K. and Ireland. GLAN works with affected communities to pursue innovative legal actions across borders to challenge powerful actors involved in human rights violations and systemic injustice. glanlaw.org  Contact: Abbi Casey [email protected] .

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law. The ICJP’s principal objective is to coordinate and support legal work which supports the rights of Palestinians in Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the wider diaspora. icjpalestine.com Contact: Jonathan Purcell [email protected].

War on Want is a charitable membership organisation of people who are committed to social justice. Our vision is a world free from poverty and oppression, based on social justice, equality and human rights for all. War on Want works in partnership with grassroots social movements, trade unions and workers’ organisations to empower people to fight for their rights. We run hard-hitting popular campaigns against the root causes of poverty and human rights violations.www.waronwant.org.