BEIRUT

Middle East

Britain reviews arms exports to Israel

Palestinian men walk through rubble of destroyed homes following Israeli strikes in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip August 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

LONDON: Britain is reviewing all arms export licenses to Israel in response to the Jewish state's escalating conflict with Hamas in Gaza, a government spokeswoman said Monday.

Israel launched an offensive against Hamas almost four weeks ago following a surge in cross-border rocket salvos. Gaza officials say more than 1,838 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed, while Israel has lost 64 soldiers in combat and three civilians to Palestinian shelling.

"We are currently reviewing all export licenses to Israel to confirm that we think they are appropriate," a spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters. The decision to conduct the review was taken last week, she said.

According to a report by a British parliamentary committee last month, outstanding government-approved contracts for export of dual use or military goods to Israel are worth more than 7.8 billion pounds ($13.12 billion). These include contracts to supply body armor, drone components, and missile parts.

"Clearly the current situation has changed compared to when some licenses will have been granted, and we're reviewing those existing licenses against the current situation but no decisions have been taken beyond going back again and reviewing," the spokeswoman said.

Britain's opposition Labor party has accused Cameron of not condemning Israel's behavior forcefully enough, a charge he rejects.

 

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