Freedom News

High court blocks case against death merchants

On Monday 19th February, the High Court ruled that it wouldn’t allow the legal case against the UK government over arms sales to Israel to proceed. The case, brought by GLAN and Al-Haq, challenges the government’s refusal to suspend arms sales to Israel despite overwhelming evidence of war crimes amounting to genocide against the Palestinian people. GLAN and Al-Haq are mounting a challenge to the decision. 

The government’s own licensing criteria state that arms sales should be halted when there is a “clear risk” that weapons could be used in violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). However, the court has relied on a defence submission from the government to dismiss this case. This is despite the submission revealing that, at best, Foreign Secretary David Cameron misled the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and that the Foreign Office assessment unit had “serious concerns” over breaches of IHL. It also revealed that the government accepted that Israel has a different interpretation of IHL.

Since 2015, the UK has licensed £487m worth of weapons and military equipment to Israel. But this figure is just scratching the surface as it doesn’t include open licences whereby companies can export unlimited specified military equipment without further reporting requirements. One such open licence is for components for the F35 combat aircraft currently bombarding Gaza. The UK industry makes 15% of every F35, and CAAT estimates that the contract is worth at least £336m since 2016.

CAAT’s Media Coordinator, Emily Apple, stated:

“This is an outrageous decision. Our government and the UK arms industry are complicit in a genocide. Yet the court has decided that it won’t even hear the case. 

“The defence submission was a farce. It showed the Foreign Office doing everything it could to justify putting the profits of arms companies before the lives of Palestinian people. 

“Our government may not have a conscience. But ordinary people across the country do. Every day, people are taking action to try to prevent our arms industry from profiting from genocide. If our government refuses to act, then it is down to all of us to stop this murderous trade.”

Image: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit photographer / Public Domain

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