Campaigners Warn UK Arms Companies on Gaza War Crimes

Campaigners Warn UK Arms Companies on Gaza War Crimes
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London (Parliament News) – Campaigners have composed to the directors of 20 arms manufactories based in the UK stating they may face criminal liability for failing to stop war crimes if their companies persist in selling military equipment to Israel.

Four companies, including the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), have written to directors of arms companies that donate parts or elements of the F-35 fighter jets operated by Israel’s air force as part of the bombing of Gaza.

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The letter asserts the company directors face a “potential criminal liability for horror crimes currently taking place in Gaza”, even though the UK government has persisted in authorising arms sales to Israel since the beginning of the war with Hamas. It cites a passage in the 2001 International Criminal Court Act that states it is an insult against English and Welsh law “to hire in ‘conduct ancillary’ to a war crime or a crime against humanity” in foreign jurisdictions.

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The company leaders include those at the UK arm of Lockheed Martin, the principal manufacturer of the advanced F-35, the British arms company BAE Systems, which makes 13-15% of each of the jets, and Northrop Grumman, a US arms engineer and significant F-35 subcontractor.

The other three companies behind the letter are the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), which has also brought a lawful challenge against the government’s decision to continue arms exports to Israel, the War on Want, and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians. 

Could UK Arms Firms Face Prosecution Over Gaza Conflict?

The campaign groups state they are willing to meet the companies to examine the issue, but add that they are also considering pointing a complaint with the Met Police asking it to take action. An alternative would be to try to climb a private prosecution if the police do not respond, they added.

“The Israeli military stands accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against Palestinians following the 7 October Hamas attacks,” their joint letter says. In it, the groups set out the legal framework governing war crimes and cite Israeli military actions they say “constitutes criminal conduct”.

Israel is under increasing international legal pressure over its prosecution of the war against Hamas in Gaza, now into its ninth month, amid allegations that the behaviour of its offensive is at risk of becoming genocidal because of the alarming humanitarian consequences faced by civilians caught up in the fighting. But Israel states it is necessary to eliminate Hamas as a military and political force in reaction to the violent raid on 7 October, in which nearly 1,200 Israelis were killed by shooting fighters. In the war that has followed, 37,431 Palestinians have been massacred, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Last month, the UN’s highest court, the International Court of Justice, ruled Israel should stop its assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah. However, the ruling was not binding and Israel said it would persist in its offensive.

A few days earlier, the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court declared he was pursuing arrest warrants on war crimes charges for Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the defence minister, Yoav Gallant, as well as three Hamas leaders in Gaza, led by Yahya Sinwar.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.