AI UK staged a silent vigil in solidarity with civilians in Rafah outside Downing Street to draw attention to the plight of some 1.4 million Palestinian civilians who are at acute risk in any full-scale Israeli military assault on the city, 14 February 2024, London, UK

UK: Granting of permission to join arms to Israel legal challenge welcomed 

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch given permission to intervene in judicial review case

Responding to the High Court this morning granting permission for Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to intervene in an ongoing legal challenge by Al-Haq and the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) to the UK’s transfer of arms to Israel, Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said:

“This is a very welcome decision and we look forward to presenting our evidence to the court.

“We’ve always believed it was vital that the court has the fullest opportunity to review expert human rights evidence from ourselves and Human Rights Watch.

“Our evidence demonstrates the gap between the Israeli military and political leadership’s policies and practices and their legal obligations, and shows how this gap has resulted in Israeli forces repeatedly committing grave breaches of international humanitarian law.

“The UK’s continued sale of components for equipment such as US-made F-35 jets despite the clear risk that these could be used by Israel in the commission of serious violations of international law is making a mockery of the UK’s own arms export rules and needs to be stopped as a matter of urgency.”

Yasmine Ahmed, Human Rights Watch’s UK Director, said:

“We welcome the court’s decision to allow Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to intervene with key evidence in this critical case.

“In the face of Israel’s ongoing crimes in Gaza, the UK government presents the nonsensical argument that it is lawful to continue sending arms to Israel on the basis that Israel is committed to complying with international law. Our evidence shows the exact opposite.

“Time and again, Israel’s official statements, policies and practice are in direct contradiction with international law and the results are clear to see: children in Gaza are dying of starvation and starvation-related illnesses. It is critical that the Government’s justification for arming Israel is properly scrutinised by the UK courts.

“The law is very clear: licences should be suspended when there is a clear risk that arms and military equipment might be used to facilitate or commit serious violations of international law.

“As Israel continues to carry out widespread serious violations, including war crimes, the UK should immediately suspend arms licences to avoid breaching its own laws and being complicit in these grave abuses.

“While this decision is of course welcome, it is a sorry state of affairs that the case even needed to be brought. We shouldn’t have to drag ministers in front of judges to have them comply with their own laws.”

Recent Government figures show that the UK has issued more than 100 export licences for arms transfers to Israel between 7 October 2023 and 31 May, with no arms export licence application rejected or existing licence suspended or revoked.