​​‘Gaza used as arms-testing laboratory’: British Jews condemn UK-Israel arms trade

Reuters / Paul Hackett
Manchester Jews for Justice for Palestinians have harshly criticized the “UK’s complicity in Israeli war crimes” in an open letter and called for an end of the arms trade between the UK and Israel.

“We deplore the UK’s complicity in Israeli war crimes, most recently the massacres and destruction of homes and livelihoods in Gaza last summer,” the group wrote in a letterpublished on the blog Mondoweiss.

“It is well known how Israel has expelled the Palestinian population from their land and enforced a systematic, military and illegal occupation against those that remain. What is less well known is that the UK has been aiding and abetting Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.”

READ MORE: UK-Israel trade hits record high despite Gaza carnage

The community of Jews living in the UK pointed out that UK export licenses have been granted for over £42 million of UK military hardware and communications equipment since 2010.

“We ask: How can UK companies be allowed to profit from exporting arms or components to Israel when these products may be involved with the Israeli bombardment in the summer of 2014 that killed over 2,100 people, including over 500 children?” they wrote.

The group called on all companies and individuals involved to divest from firms that support the arms trade with Israel.

“We urge you to heed the Palestinian call for the boycott of Israeli products, divestment from firms that support Israel and sanctions against the Israeli regime,” they conclude.

“The UK need not be complicit in such evident crimes against humanity. Crimes against a people who are mostly children and refugees, a people who need the world to stop turning their backs on the endless catastrophes that the most heavily militarized army in the Middle East has imposed on them.”

READ MORE: ‘Israel is racist and apartheid state’: Green Party candidate faces backlash

In November last year, figures revealed that Britain had approved the sale of arms to Israel worth £7 million in the six months before its offensive on Gaza last summer, including drone parts, combat aircraft and helicopters.

This led to concerns that British-made equipment was being used by the Israeli military during Operation Protective Edge, in which 2,000 Palestinians and 73 Israelis lost their lives.

Labour MP Katy Clark commented at the time: “It is now abundantly clear that not only did the UK refuse to condemn Israeli military action throughout Operation Protective Edge, but that it actively allowed UK companies to arm the IDF throughout the conflict.”

The Jewish Chronicle conducted a survey of the Jewish community in Britain on which party and leader they will vote for.

Out of all those polled, 69 percent said they would vote Conservative and 22 percent for Labour, while two percent backed the Liberal Democrats and UKIP respectively.

READ MORE: Israeli explosive artillery fired on Gaza up more than 500% in 6 years – UK study

Asked which party leader would have the best attitude towards the Jewish community in the UK should they become prime minister, 64 percent said David Cameron and 13 percent said Ed Miliband.

Asked “which party generally do you think has the best policies for Israel & the Middle East?” 61 percent backed the Conservatives and only eight percent chose Labour.

Many have warned that Ed Miliband is driving Jewish voters into the arms of the Conservatives by making pro-Palestine remarks. He urged Labour MPs to recognize the state of Palestine in a symbolic parliamentary vote last year.

Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the allegation that Labour was “anti-Israel” is “nonsense.” She assured the Jewish Chronicle that under a Labour government the UK would continue to be a “key ally” of Israel.