Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip has created a severe humanitarian crisis, forcing more than two thirds of its population into food insecurity, and its repeated assaults on Gaza have killed and injured civilians.
Israel has been in illegal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, since 1967. Over this time, they have entrenched an Apartheid system of institutionalised discrimination and oppression. This includes a system of checkpoints, walls and surveillance that controls Palestinians’ daily lives, demolition of houses, schools, and entire communities, expansion of illegal settlements, and imprisonment, abuse, and torture of large numbers of Palestinians, including children. Within Israel itself, Palestinian citizens face systematic and institutionalised discrimination.
Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2007 has created a severe humanitarian crisis, with over two thirds of the population food insecure. Three major military assaults on Gaza in 2008-09, 2012, and 2014, have killed 3,762 Palestinians. During the Great March of Return in 2018, Israeli forces killed over 180 unarmed protesters at the Gaza-Israel border, and injured 23,000.
CAAT and other NGOs, including War on want and Palestine Solidarity Campaign, have long called for an arms embargo on Israel, as well as a halt to all UK links with the Israeli arms industry, including UK arms purchases from Israel and joint arms development projects. These calls have grown stronger since Israel’s military action against Gaza in July 2014, with the ensuing deaths of over 2,000 Palestinians.
These calls led Prime Minister David Cameron to announce on 4 August 2014 that all export licences would be reviewed. Such ‘reviews’ by the government have not stopped the flow of UK arms to Israel; indeed, they have accelerated. Between 2014 and 2018, the UK issued Single Individual Export Licenses (SIELs) for arms sales to Israel to a value of £361 million, compared to just £74 million from 2008 to 2014. In addition, 20 Open Individual Export Licenses (OIELs) have been issued since 2014, allowing unlimited deliveries of specified types of equipment to Israel by the licensee over a longer period, typically 3 or 5 years.