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MoD refuses to confirm if Cyprus airbase is being used to send arms to Israel

CAMPAIGNERS and MPs blasted the government today for refusing to confirm whether Britain’s Cyprus airbase is being used as a covert hub for supplying arms to Israel.

Declassified UK reported that RAF Akrotiri has facilitated more than 30 military transport flights to Tel Aviv since the beginning of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.  

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, more than 40 US transport aircraft, 20 British transport aircraft and seven transport helicopters had flown to the base loaded with cargo from US and Nato depots. 

Alba MP Kenny MacAskill asked the Ministry of Defence on Tuesday how many US Air Force flights had flown to Israel from RAF Akrotiri since October 7.

Defence Minister James Heappey replied: “The Ministry of Defence does not comment on information about allies’ operations.”

When Mr MacAskill earlier asked if the base was being used to send US arms or military equipment to Israel, the MoD also refused to comment. 

Labour MP John McDonnell urged the government to “come clean.”

“Many of us have long campaigned for a ban on arms supply to Israel and this has tragically become even more pressing given the horrendous number of civilians killed in Gaza by the IDF.”

Action on Armed Violence executive director Iain Overton pointed out that the pattern is more than familiar. 

“The British government is also being taken to tribunal for refusing to hand over details of civilian harm in its military operations, alongside a judge-led independent inquiry into Afghanistan investigating extrajudicial killing allegations against the UK’s Special Forces there.

“The government’s refusal over Cyprus is part of a wider issue where the British military seems to hold accountability and transparency in contempt.” 

Stop the War co-founder Lindsey German said that the MoD’s refusal to answer questions on the matter “speaks volumes.” 

“The base in Cyprus is there precisely to intervene in the Middle East,” she said. 

“The east Mediterranean has US and UK naval vessels and our government shares intelligence with Israel to aid its bloody onslaught of Gaza. But they don’t want us to know this as it demonstrates government complicity with war crimes.”

Campaign Against Arms Trade media co-ordinator Emily Apple said: “The British government is already complicit in these war crimes through its support of the Israeli government and the millions of pounds of arms it has already licensed to Israel.  

“However it is essential we know the full extent of its complicity, so we are able to hold this government to account.”

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament General Secretary Kate Hudson criticised the government for using "national security" as a pretext to justify its silence.

“It’s being used in the most shocking fashion to cover up British government complicity in Israel’s criminal war on Gaza.”

“It has nothing to do with safety: it’s a free pass to a coverup culture.”

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