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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

British government sued over arms sales to Israel

Tue, 24 Feb 2009 20:19:27

Fareena Alam, Press TV, London

UK sued over arms sales to Israel

Thu, 26 Feb 2009 15:20:48 GMT
Israel allegedly employed controversial weapons including white phosphorus ammunitions during its three-week onslaught against Gaza.

The UK government is being sued over its policy of selling arms to Israel, which human rights activists say violates international law.

The Palestinian organization Al-Haq says under international law, London is obliged not to render "aid or assistance" to Israel following its recent invasion of the Gaza Strip, the BBC reported.

The group has urged the UK High Court to launch a probe into Britain's arms sales to Israel.

The recent war in Gaza killed more than 1,300 people including women and children. Israel is accused of employing controversial weapons, including white phosphorus ammunitions and depleted uranium, in the war.

The rights group said the UK government appears to have "positively assisted" Israel in its invasion of Gaza by continuing to sell it weapons.

"It is Al-Haq's position that if the UK were to meet its international obligations now, Palestinian lives and limbs in Gaza would be saved," said Phil Shiner, Al-Haq's lawyer in the case.

The war in Gaza, which has left thousands of Palestinians without shelter and in needs of vital necessities, has been condemned by international rights groups as well as governments around the globe.

"There would be a much greater chance of accountability for Israel's actions and a change in the policies of all key players so that nothing like it can ever again befall the Palestinian people," Shiner said.

The organization has based its argument on the fact that "Israel has interfered with the Palestinian right to self-determination, has acquired territory by force and has committed war crimes."

The move has won support form other rights groups. "This government is complicit in arms sales to Israel some of which have been used to commit war crimes," said Bruce Kent, vice president of the Catholic peace group Pax Christi.

The UK Foreign Office, meanwhile, dismissed the charges saying that the country's arms sales are strictly regulated.

"Britain has some of the tightest regulations in the world for arms sales…The government monitors the situation in Israel with care in considering applications for arms export licenses," a statement by the Office said.

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