Weapons export licences awarded to Israel: full review needed
London, May 16, 2018: Save the Children is calling on the Foreign Secretary to take four concrete steps to ensure that Palestinian children are protected from harm amid escalating tensions between Palestinian protesters and the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The charity is calling on Boris Johnson to:
- Launch a review of all weapons export licenses to Israel to ensure that British arms are not being used against children.
- Summon Mark Regev, the Israeli Ambassador, to condemn the use of live ammunition against children and urge greater restraint.
- Continue to back the UN’s call for an independent investigation into the violence.
- Redouble efforts to end the 10-year blockade of Gaza which is causing so much harm to children.
George Graham, Director of Conflict & Humanitarian Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at Save the Children, says:
“Since the protests in Gaza began on March 30th, reports say more than 10,000 people have been injured. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza at least 400 children have been shot with live ammunition. The sheer volume of wounded has left medical workers struggling to keep pace and has further pushed services and families to breaking point.
“As an agency that exists to protect and uphold the rights of children, Save the Children is calling on Israel to end the use of sniper fire, live ammunition and tear gas against children.
“During the last Israel-Gaza conflict in 2014 the British government conducted a review of all weapons export licenses to Israel to ensure that the arms were being put to appropriate use. Save the Children is asking that a similar review take place today.
“Our teams on the ground are deeply concerned about the physical and psychological impact of the current violence. 15 children have already been killed and over 1,000 injured. This includes Rashed (name changed), a 16-year-old athlete who had dreams of becoming an Olympic champion but was shot in the leg during the protests. He was taken to hospital but later had his leg amputated.”
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Notes to editors:
- A statement from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, has implored “Israel to show greater restraint.”
- The UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN Security Council, Karen Pierce, has reiterated “the importance of protecting minors”.
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has stressed that “lethal force may only be used as a measure of last – not first – resort, and only when there is an immediate threat to life or serious injury. An attempt to approach or crossing or damaging the fence do not amount to a threat to life or serious injury and are not sufficient grounds for the use of live ammunition. This is also the case with regards to stones and Molotov cocktails being thrown from a distance at well-protected security forces located behind defensive positions.”
- Some 1.3 million of Gaza’s 1.9 million inhabitants are refugees or descendant from those who were displaced by the fighting that broke out 70 years ago.
- Half of Gaza’s population is under the age of 18.
- Save the Children is one of the largest non-governmental organisations working in Gaza, addressing the immediate humanitarian and long-term development needs of children and adults. We have over 30 years of experience on the ground and currently implement programs in the areas of education, child protection, livelihoods and economic opportunities, and psychosocial health. We also provide some water and sanitation services and work through partners to provide a range of other services.
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