‘Morally Incoherent’ – Oxfam Head Slams UK Govt’s Arms Supply to Israel

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron. (Photo: Chatham House, via Wikimedia Commons)

“Gazan children are being bombed, suffering from malnutrition and facing potential famine and the UK still can’t constrain the Israeli military. It defies belief we’d support this action, our humanity seems to be seeping away.”

The British government’s approach to supplying arms to Israel has been described as “intellectually and morally incoherent” by the head of Oxfam UK.

“Whether you say they are components or whole weapons (being sold) is a moot point, because individual components collectively constitute these devices that are killing so many innocent people. The UK needs to stop selling these arms,” Halima Begum, Oxfam’s chief executive, told The Guardian on Sunday.

“The government can’t simultaneously give humanitarian aid and talk about its aspirations for peace in the region, then also ship bombs – it’s intellectually and morally incoherent,” Begum said. “That the law doesn’t prevent the trade seems immaterial. If you knowingly sell weapons that are being used to kill thousands of innocent children and their parents, why would you continue?”

The paper said government figures published a week ago showed that the UK issued 108 licences to Israel between October 7 and May 31, “and that no arms export licence application has been rejected or revoked during that timeframe.”

Global South vs West

Begum, who recently returned from a work trip to the occupied West Bank and Israel, was of the view that “the global south was fairly united on what needs to happen regarding Gaza,” the report said.

It seemed to be “only Western leaders that don’t see what is morally the right thing to do,” she emphasized.

Begum said: “Margaret Thatcher halted weapons exports to Israel during the Lebanon war. Ronald Reagan suspended shipments of cluster munitions in July 1982… So it wouldn’t be the first time a British or US government has drawn a moral line.”

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 37,337 Palestinians have been killed, and 85,299 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

‘Position Unchanged’

Last month UK government ministers found no reason to suspend arms exports to Israel following a review of the Israeli military’s operation in the Gaza Strip.

“As required by the UK’s robust arms export control regime, the foreign secretary has now reviewed the most recent advice about the situation in Gaza and Israel’s conduct of their military campaign. This assessment covered the period to 24 April 2024,” the British Foreign Office said in a statement. “The business secretary has therefore decided our position on export licences remains unchanged. This is consistent with the advice ministers have received. As ever, we will keep the position under review.

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