Britain supplies the weapons that kill Palestinian children

In November 2008 Labour government Business Secretary Lord Mandelson told a City of London Mansion House audience he wanted closer ties with our ‘firm friend’ Israel. The target was bilateral trade worth £3 billion a year by 2012, up from £2.3 billion in 2007. British exports to Israel have averaged about £1.8 billion and imports £1.25 billion a year since 1997. Imported goods from Israel rose from £839 million in 1997 to £1.04 billion in 2007. Israel’s major trade partners are the US, Britain and Germany. The EU is Israel’s largest export market and second main source of imports after the US. Israel is part of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership intended to promote free trade across the EU’s southern periphery.

The Israeli arms industry is integrated into the US and European military-industrial complexes, including interlocking ownerships.

Israel’s wars serve as laboratories to test weapons and tactics. Israeli soldiers trained the Metropolitan Police who killed Jean Charles de Menezes.

British export licences granted for arms sales to Israel were worth £11.5 million in 2004, £22.5 million in 2005 and £24 million in the first six months of 2008. BAE Systems supplies components for F16 fighter jets destined for Israel. MPE in Liverpool supplies parts for Israeli F15s and F16s. UAV Engines of Lichfield is Israeli-owned and makes the engines used in Israel’s Hermes 450 drones. Smiths Industries of Croydon and Augusta Westland of Yeovil contribute to the Israeli Defence Force Apache helicopter gun-ships. Israel has supplied the British military with cluster shells (used on Basra), grenades, machine guns, drones, armour protection for helicopters, targeting instruments and more. British and Israeli arms companies are engaged in joint research projects.

Trevor Rayne

FRFI 207 February / March 2009


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