Tuesday, July 14, 2009

UK cuts Israel weapons contracts--and we should too

Good news from the United Kingdom: pressure from human rights groups to cut off weapons shipments to Israel given the role of foreign-provided arms in the human rights catastrophe of the December-January assault on the Gaza Strip is starting to pay off. The BBC reports that the "UK has revoked five export licences for equipment to the Israeli navy because of actions during Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza this year." This decision comes after pressure on the UK government from human rights groups:
"The UK says it does not sell weapons which might be used for internal repression or external aggression. ...The British government has been challenged by human rights groups and members of the UK parliament over concerns raised by Amnesty International that British-made equipment was used illegally in Gaza."
Read the full article here. Amnesty's initial report on Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" was entitled "Fuelling conflict: Foreign arms supplies to Israel/Gaza," and is available here. The report outlined the significant role that U.S. arms, including white phosphorous shells, played in the the destruction of the Gaza Strip. More recently, Amnesty has issued a report outlining accusations of war crimes committed by the Israeli military and Hamas forces during "Operation Cast Lead." Given the significant role that U.S.-provided weapons played in Israel's brutal 22 day attack on the Gaza Strip, and given that U.S. law prohibits countries receiving U.S. weapons from using them in acts of aggression, the sort of pressure that has been brought to bear on the British government can and must be applied to the U.S. government. Click here to sign up to organize a meeting with your Member of Congress in August to tell them that the U.S. government should cut and condition military aid to Israel as long as it continues to be used to violate U.S. law, international law, and Palestinian human rights. You can also watch Democracy Now cover the story here: