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Mealy-mouthed ministers have rejected calls to check whether British-made goods have been used by Israel’s military in its latest assault on Gaza.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond took a hammering from human rights campaigners yesterday after he claimed to have been “working tirelessly” for a 72-hour ceasefire announced overnight — despite having repeatedly refused to take a stand in the days prior.
But his pious proclamation follows enthusiastic shilling for weapons manufacturers — including sales to the Israeli military — in his previous portfolio as Defence Secretary.
As recently as last September Mr Hammond said in a speech to executives at a London arms industry conference that he was “not ashamed of promoting responsible defence exports,” with trade officials approving military-grade shipments to Israel worth more than £7.8 billion in 2013 alone.
Yet Mr Hammond’s junior flunkey Tobias Ellwood was instructed to inform MPs yesterday that the department had “no plans” to investigate whether equipment or components manufactured in Britain was being used in the current assault.
Labour MP Katy Clark, who made the request, said the Tories were “trying to bury their heads in the sand.
“This is a shameful approach to take and frankly makes the government look as if it has something to hide,” she said.
Campaign Against Arms Trade spokesman Andrew Smith agreed: “When governments sell weapons into war zones they can not absolve themselves of responsibility for what happens if they are used.”
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