As we reported yesterday, the House of Commons Committee on Arms Export Controls wrote to the Foreign Secretary in August (letter here) requesting details of Government’s review of arm export licences to Israel. The Committee requested information about controlled goods, including components, technologies and software that have received British Government approval for export to Israel which the Government has reason to believe may have been used by the Israelis in the course of Operation Protective Edge either from within Israel or in Gaza itself.
The Foreign Secretary has now replied saying, in summary, that:
(1) Officials have scrutinised extant licences and identified those relating to items most likely to be part of equipment used by the IDF forces in Gaza, and have judged it unlikely that many of the components that were the subject of extant licences were for incorporation into systems that would be likely to be used offensively in Gaza (e.g. imaging cameras or decoy and counter-measures).
(2) 12 licences had been identified where there could be a risk that the items “might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law”, and therefore those licences would be suspended in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities.
The BIS press release explains further that:
- The suspensions will not include the single licence granted in February 2013 for the export of up to £7.7bn of cryptographic equipment. This licence covers equipment that could be used to build mobile phone networks in residential areas and for small businesses. None of this equipment meets military specifications and would not suitable for building military communications equipment
- The licences covered by today’s announcement relate to export licences for military equipment that could be used by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza. They include components for military radar systems, combat aircraft and tanks. Suspensions would not include components of Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield which helps to protect Israelis from Hamas rocket attacks, commercial exports, or components for manufacture of equipment to be supplied to countries outside Israel.
- The procedures for assessing licence applications are based on eight consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria and address the risks of irresponsible arms transfers.