UK ministers say arms exports to Israel will continue

The UK has once again concluded that it will not suspend arms exports to Israel, after reviewing a further three months of the Israeli military’s presence in Gaza.

The latest review examined Israel’s bombardment of the enclave until 24 April, including the killing of three British aid workers.

“The business secretary has therefore decided our position on export licences remains unchanged. This is consistent with the advice ministers have received. As ever, we will keep the position under review,” reads a foreign office statement seen by The Guardian.

The statement adds that the UK operates a “robust and thorough assessment of arms export licence applications” and would not grant a license if there is a “clear risk” that the arms might be used to violate international law.

The previous review was released on 9 April and covered Israel’s presence until the end of January.

Since 7 October, the UK government has been facing calls to halt its arms exports to Israel, heightened the killing of three British aid workers in Gaza.

Despite the national outcry over the deaths of thousands of civilians, the UK continues to send arms.

New figures from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) allege  that the actual value of arms exports to Israel is twice as high as the government claims – at least £1 billion since 2015.

While the UK said Israel’s major ground offensive on Rafah would be a potential breach of international law, Foreign Secretary David Cameron said its position remains “unchanged” and will keep sending weapons to Israel.

UK ministers called for a transparent inquiry into an Israeli strike on a “safe zone” displacement camp in Rafah, where over 40 people were killed.

The strike came after the International Court of Justice’s ruling for Israel to “immediately halt” its Rafah offensive, which the UK said would only strengthen Hamas.

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