What has changed since January 2009?

Written at the time:

Israeli spy planes implicated in the slaughter of hundreds of civilians in Gaza are powered by engines made in the Midlands according to Amnesty International.

The human rights pressure group believes that Lichfield based UAV Engines Limited (UEL) is supplying hardware for unmanned drones – which help F16 bombers identify their targets in the area.

Given that many of the 670 Palestinian victims have died in aerial attacks, Amnesty is calling on the British government to halt further exports.

Amnesty’s Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said: “the UK government must ensure that weapons exports to Israel do not fuel human rights abuses.

“This includes military components: it’s no good stopping arms exports to a conflict-ridden country if you still allow the sale of the parts that make them.

“Pilotless aircraft have been used by Israel in previous attacks on civilian and humanitarian targets.

“The government should ensure that UK-based firms are in no way implicated in these attacks.”

It’s a view supported by more than 100 backbench MP’s, who have signed up to a statement written by Northfield MP Richard Burden calling for an arms embargo on both sides (see link here).

UEL’s parent company Elbit Systems of Israel, has denied that British parts are being used in Gaza – even though references on their website suggest the opposite.

An Elbit spokeswoman told The Guardian: “UEL engines are provided to the British … and to other international customers, not to Hermes 450 in the service of the IDF [Israel Defence Forces]” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/09/armstrade-gaza).

In any event, it would not be illegal to send its products to Israel; although exports of tanks, plans and guns to Israel are currently suspended, it’s not against the law to supply parts.

(Further reading here)

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