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GAZA and the UK Arms Industry

Days, weeks, and months go by as Israel, in response to the horrific killings and kidnappings of October 7th, uses direct lethal violence and indirect siege tactics to bring death, destruction, and desolation to the people of Gaza.

The death count rises; tens of thousands have died—yes, some are Hamas combatants, but a significant number are civilians, including many thousands of women and children.

Estimates vary: if you can’t find or identify a body, should they be added to the list of the dead or missing? The UN reports that 14,500 children have been killed. Each loss is not a mere statistic but a child, created by God, made in His image, deserving dignity and honor. These children, with lives to be lived, are cut short by sniper bullets and crumbling rubble, or they die a slow death from malnutrition. Gaza has become a graveyard, with a child killed every 15 minutes. It is hard to see how this isn’t a war crime, with the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. The International Court of Justice has concluded that the case for Israel committing genocide is plausible, and Israel is now under investigation.

As the months go by, it’s hard; we become numb to the horror and brutality. We once paused to reflect and pray; the newsfeeds were full of every twist and turn, but now it’s background noise.

Yet, we must remember that this conflict, this horror, this alleged genocide, is not isolated from the UK. Our government and economic system are not sitting on the fence; we are actively supporting the conflict.

In the UK, arms companies and their shareholders continue to profit from the conflict despite criteria stating that weapons should not be sold "if there is a clear risk that the items might be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law." These arms manufacturers provide and support weapon systems that contribute to mass death, including utility helicopters, armored personnel carriers, naval vessels, and F-35 fighter jets. These weapons disproportionately kill children.

Given the alleged genocide and the rising numbers of civilian deaths, the continuous supply of weaponry is a stain on our moral conscience. We have placed profit over morality. There are counter voices, like Labour MP Zarah Sultana, who said that the UK is "aiding and abetting what are war crimes happening on a daily basis."

So what can we do? Talk about it, share this post, write to your MP- to demand that they immediately suspend all arms export licenses to Israel.

- Rev'd Jon Swales, 22nd May 2024


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