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UK premier expresses 'deep concern' over Gaza, says no change in arms export to Israel

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published May 15,2024
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (AFP Photo)

The British prime minister on Wednesday expressed his "deep concern" over the situation in the Gaza Strip while reiterating that the UK's position on arms export licenses to Israel is unchanged.

"The UK government does not directly sell arms to Israel, unlike the U.S., and nor does the UK government offer any military lethal aid packages to Israel as the U.S. does," Rishi Sunak said during the Prime Minister's Questions session in the House of Commons.

His remarks came after asked why the government, as the majority of the British public demands, does not put an end to arms sales to Israel in the face of Israeli destruction in the Gaza Strip where more than 35,000 people have been killed in Israeli attacks since Oct. 7.

In reply, the premier recalled that the government does not directly sell arms to Israel and it should not be conflated with arms export licenses to Israel.

"As part of the government's robust arms control regime, we do regularly review advice to ensure compliance with international law and ministers act in accordance with that advice," said Sunak.

He added: "Our position with regard to export licenses ... is unchanged following the most recent assessment, and it is indeed in line with other partners, including the United States."

The UK has long met with a wide range of criticism from pro-Palestinian voices and organizations over continuing arms export licenses to Israel.


Then Sunak was pressed over the blocking of aid by Israel as well as the killings of thousands of civilians and was asked "Why he allows Israel to get away with it unchallenged, why he continues to act as a bystander to such horror."

In response, Sunak reiterated his country's support for Israel's "right to defend itself," but saying he is "deeply concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza."

The prime minister noted that he has consistently made this point to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ensure more flow of aid into Gaza.

"You can rest assured that we on this side of the house will continue to do everything we can to get support to the people in Gaza who needed," he added.

Israel has waged a brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip in retaliation for an Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas attack, which killed 1,200 people.

More than 35,100 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, mostly women and children, and over 79,000 others injured, according to Palestinian health authorities.

In the West Bank, nearly 500 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured since Oct. 7, along with daily arrest campaigns by the Israeli army.

Israel is accused of "genocide" at the International Court of Justice, which has ordered Tel Aviv to ensure its forces do not commit acts of genocide and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.