As the conflict in the Gaza Strip continues to escalate, and the body count continues to increase the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT) has called for an immediate end to all European military support for Israel and for the EU to declare a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties in conflict. Pending such an embargo, all EU states must immediately suspend all transfers of military equipment, assistance and ammunitions to the parties in conflict.
When taken together European countries are one of Israel’s main suppliers of military systems and equipment, behind only the US. In the last ten years EU countries have licensed around €1.5 billion of military contracts to Israel, including over €600 million in 2012 alone. This has included ammunition, weapon firing equipment and components for military aircrafts and vehicles. According to EU Reports, European countries have not sent arms or military systems to Palestine since 2002.
Dutch components of F16 fighters, Apache attack helicopters and Hellfire rockets end up with the Israeli armed forces through co-production agreements with US companies. Italy is the largest supplier in the European Union of military systems to Israel. Since the recent Israeli air raids on Gaza Strip began, Alenia Aermacchi (an Italian company controlled by the Finmeccanica group) sent the first two M-346 trainer aircraft to Israeli Air Force. Similarly, Spanish arms exports to Israel have doubled since 2008.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “The sale of weapons doesn’t just give Israel military support, it also gives it a strong political support. Europe has to use its influence to promote reconciliation, not fuel the cycle of war and conflict. An immediate embargo of all arms sales from EU countries to Israel and all parts in conflict is essential if the EU is to play a peacemaker role and to send a message that it does not support the actions of the Israeli government and the escalation of the conflict.
A number of European countries have a two-way relationship with Israel, with many spending millions of euros each year on ‘battle-tested’ arms from Israeli companies. One growing link is in the area of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones.
For example, Spain has imported the Searcher unmanned aircraft from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). In 2005, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the UK awarded UAV Tactical Systems Ltd (U-TacS), a joint venture between Israeli arms company Elbit Systems and its partner company Thales UK, a contract which would ultimately be worth nearly £1 billion for the development of the Watchkeeper WK450 drones.
Giorgio Beretta of the Italian Disarmament Network commented: “We appreciate the call to all parties in the conflict for an immediate ceasefire expressed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini. Accordingly, the Italian Government – which this semester holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and it is one of the major European exporter of military systems to Israel – should without delay promote actions leading to an EU embargo on weapons and military equipments to all parties in the conflict, in order to protect civilians and foster the resumption of negotiations”.
Bremen Foundation for Arms Conversion and Peace Research (Germany)
Campaign Against Arms Trade (UK)
Centre Delàs for Peace Studies (Spain)
Group Switzerland Without an Army – GSoA (Switzerland)
Stop Wapenhandel (The Netherlands)
Rete Italiana per il Disarmo (Italy)
The Human Rights Institute of Slovakia
NESEHNUTÍ Brno (Czech republic)
Norwegian Peace Accosiation (Norway)
War Resisters International