Scrutiny of the arms trade is much needed | Letters

The arms trade is deeply unpopular with many people while at the same time fulfilling a major role in the UK economy, writes Ben WillemsI am writing to commend Damien Gayle’s article (Charges dropped over protest at Israeli military drones factory in UK, 23 November). It is important to document campaigns against the arms trade going on in the UK, as a necessary extension of war reporting in places like Palestine, Yemen and Iraq when companies based in the UK are supplying arms and equipment for these murderous conflicts, and where evidence of war crimes is regularly exposed. The campaign against the Israeli firm Elbit and its subsidiary UAV Engines has developed in response to Israel’s use of drones to bombard the civilian population of Gaza, in particular two intensive military campaigns, Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014, which led to thousands of civilian deaths. The court case against the five activists marks the latest stage in the campaign, and the dropping of charges indicates that Elbit is aware of the risks of exposing in court the connections between UAV Engines and the killing of civilians in Gaza, potentially leaving the firm open to further sanctions and investigation.

The arms trade is deeply unpopular with many people while at the same time fulfilling a major role in the UK economy. It should be subject to the same standards of rigorous reporting as other sectors of the economy, regardless of the vested interests and strategic military considerations that allow the trade to continue, despite all the evidence of weapons and equipment being used to commit war crimes.

Ben Willems

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