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BRITAIN is complicit in the recent deaths of scores of children in Yemen and Gaza because it continues to licence billions of pounds’ worth of arms, campaigners said today.
This morning at least 40 people were killed and 60 injured – mostly children – in a Saudi-led coalition air strike on a school bus in Saada, Yemen.
Britain has licensed £4.7 billion of arms to Saudi forces since the bombing campaign began in 2015, according to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT).
So far around 10,000 people have been killed, in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
Licences include £2.7bn for aircraft, helicopters, drones and £1.9bn for grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures.
Andrew Smith of CAAT said: “The government has been utterly complicit in the destruction. It has armed and supported the Saudi-led coalition right from the start.
“The death toll has spiralled, and the humanitarian crisis has only got worse, and yet the arms sales have continued.”
Britain has also licensed more than £340 million worth of arms to Israel over the last four years.
The Israeli regime killed three people – including a pregnant woman and her 18-month-old daughter – in Gaza in an air strike last night.
CAAT said that this amount has been approved by the Department for International Trade since the Israeli Defence Force’s “Operation Protective Edge” started – also known as the 2014 Gaza War.
Licences include components for drones, combat aircraft and helicopters. Last year saw £183m in licences for “technology for military radars.”
Now the Israeli Defence Force is warning that full-blown military confrontation is “nearing” following increased tensions and shootings, including its massacre of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators along the Gaza border since March.
Reports from health officials in Gaza say that the IDF has killed at least 154 Palestinians since the protests began.
Mr Smith added: “If weapons continue to be sold then it is only a matter of time before they are used again. By continuing to arm Israeli forces the UK is sending a message of support for the decades of repression that have already been inflicted.
“The government should be using its influence to push for a peaceful and just solution, not promoting arms sales.”
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