‘Fueling Onslaught’ – Oxfam Joins Legal Battle against UK Arms Sales to Israel

Oxfam is seeking an order to compel the UK to suspend arms transfer to Israel. (Design: Palestine Chronicle)

The plaintiffs are seeking an order to compel the UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade to cease and suspend all licenses for the export of weapons and military equipment to Israel for use in Gaza.

Oxfam has formally applied to intervene in a judicial review challenging the UK government’s continued approval of arms sales to Israel, the international anti-poverty agency announced today. 

This legal case, brought to the High Court in London by the UK-based Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and the independent Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, is supported by the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians.

The court is examining evidence suggesting that Israel is not adhering to legal obligations during armed conflict. The plaintiffs are seeking an order to compel the UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade to cease and suspend all licenses for the export of weapons and military equipment to Israel for use in Gaza.

As a humanitarian organization operating in Gaza, Oxfam has requested permission from the High Court to act as an intervener. This would allow Oxfam to provide a witness statement detailing its experiences as a humanitarian responder in the enclave and to make legal representations. A hearing on this application is scheduled for today at the Royal Courts of Justice.

The judicial review hearing is anticipated to take place in October. Since 2015, the UK has licensed at least £489 million worth of military exports to Israel and issued 61 open licenses of unlimited value, covering components for combat aircraft, missiles, tanks, technology, small arms, and ammunition. 

The UK supplies approximately 15 percent of the components in the F-35 stealth bomber aircraft currently used by Israel in its military operations against Gaza’s Palestinian population.

Oxfam is advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza to halt the ongoing death and destruction and to facilitate the delivery of critical aid to those in dire need. The organization continues to call for the release of hostages as well.

“Gaza is fast becoming completely uninhabitable. More than 37,000 people have been killed and a further 84,000 have been wounded, the majority children and women,” Halima Begum, Oxfam GB Chief Executive, explained.

“At least 500,000 Palestinians in Gaza are facing famine and children are dying of starvation. As long as Israel is killing Palestinian civilians in apparent contravention of international law, the UK government has a responsibility to stop selling it arms,” she added.

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“Morally, the UK should not be fueling this onslaught by selling Israel more weapons. Instead, it should be using all the diplomatic leverage it has to push for an immediate and lasting ceasefire.”

Begum also highlighted that current Foreign Secretary David Cameron signed the Arms Trade Treaty on behalf of the UK in 2014, when he served as prime minister. “He is now foreign secretary of a government seemingly intent on ignoring the treaty’s fundamental obligations.”

Past Conservative and Labour governments have restricted or suspended arms sales during periods of intense violence in Gaza, including the administrations of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. 

Ongoing Genocide

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7. 

 According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 37,232 Palestinians have been killed, and 85,037 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children. 

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The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.


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