Monday 15 July 2024

London high court rejects legal challenge against UK arms sales to Israel

The High Court in London has rejected a legal challenge against UK weapons exports to Israel, despite growing concerns over human rights violations in war-torn Gaza Strip.

The court refused the appeal against the UK Department for Business and Trade (DBT) on Tuesday, saying the criteria requiring the DBT to consider whether there is a risk the weapons might be used in a violation of international law must be “clear” and has to be “of a serious violation”.


The court refusal said there was a “high hurdle” to overcome to establish the government’s conclusion was “irrational,” adding that “There is no realistic prospect of that hurdle being surmounted here.”


Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq and UK-based Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) applied for a judicial review of the government’s export licenses for the sale of British weapons capable of being used in Israel's war on Gaza.


They warned that the UK government is ignoring its own rules in the Israeli war on Gaza, saying they are seeking to overturn the court’s decision. 


The legal challenge stated that the government has granted licenses for the sale of British weapons to Israel under a wide range of categories in recent years.


Existing UK arms export criteria say that if there is a “clear risk” that a weapon might be used in a serious violation of international humanitarian law (IHL) then an arms export should not be licensed.


Shawan Jabarin, general director of al-Haq, said the UK government’s decision to continue supplying Israel with weapons for offensive against men, women, and children in Gaza is effectively arming the occupying regime to “completely decimate” the Gaza Strip, reducing the besieged enclave’s vital civilian infrastructure to rubble.


GLAN also said the high court’s decision is out of step with the growing international consensus that Israel's actions in Gaza amount to genocide.


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued a preliminary ruling on a genocide case brought by South Africa against the Israeli regime, ordering Tel Aviv to take all measures necessary to prevent genocide in the Gaza Strip


Last week, a Dutch court ordered the government of the Netherlands to stop supplying F35 fighter jet parts to Israel within seven days, citing violations of international and humanitarian law. Italy and Spain also blocked all arms exports to Israel as soon as the attacks in Gaza started.


Israel waged the devastating war on Gaza on October 7 after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas carried out a surprise retaliatory attack, dubbed Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, against the occupying entity over its intensified violence against Palestinians.


The Israeli aggression has so far killed more than 29,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, and injured about 70,000 others in Gaza.


The Tel Aviv regime has imposed a “complete siege” on the territory, cutting off fuel, electricity, food, and water to the more than two million Palestinians living there.


According to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), between 2015 and 2022, the UK licensed more than half a billion dollars worth of weapons to Tel Aviv.


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