UK rejects idea of suspending arms sales to Israel

UK rejects idea of suspending arms sales to Israel

Opposition lawmaker questions government over whether British arms have been used in Israeli attacks on schools and hospitals

By Mehmet Solmaz

BIRMINGHAM, England (AA) - British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said Monday that arms exports go through strict criteria and arms sales to Israel are “relatively small” when asked about the role of UK-made arms being used in violation of international law.

In a questioning session at the House of Commons, opposition Labour Party lawmaker Kim Johnson asked Shapps about ceasing arms exports to Israel.

“Today, an Israeli airstrike on an UNRWA school has killed 12. The Indonesian Hospital in Gaza is currently surrounded by IDF tanks. So can the minister confirm whether arms sold by the UK have been used in violations of international humanitarian law? And can he explain why arms sales to Israel have not yet been suspended?”

Shapps said the government calls on all parties to make sure they act within international humanitarian law.

“Our defense exports to Israel are relatively small -- just £42 million ($52 million) last year. They go through a very strict criteria before anything is exported,” he said.

Shapps said the British authorities are “doing everything we possibly can to help both lower tensions” and ensure that they can get aid into the region.

“We’ve had 51 tons of aid so far delivered and there'll be another flight later this month.”

Some activists had been staging protests at the UK factories of Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems.

The Palestine Action Group claims that the factory makes rotary engines that are fitted to a drone called the Hermes 450, which is "used in war crimes."

The company has denied that the factory is producing parts used in Israeli combat drones, without giving further details on how its technology is being used by the Israeli military.

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