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UK ‘morally incoherent’ for sending arms to Israel and aid to Gaza, says Oxfam chief | Israel-Gaza war

The head of Oxfam GB said it was “intellectually and morally contradictory” to supply arms to Israel while at the same time providing humanitarian aid to Gaza.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 37,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since the Hamas attack on October 7. Both Israel and Hamas are accused of violating international law.

Despite this, British ministers have rejected calls to halt arms exports to Israel, sparking legal action. Oxfam said on Thursday Permission to formally intervene was given..

Halima Begum, who became chief executive of Oxfam UK in April and recently returned from a business trip to Israel and the occupied West Bank, told the Guardian in an interview that the UK’s stance made no sense.

“Whether it’s a part or an entire weapon, [being sold] It’s arguable because the individual parts together make up these devices which are killing many innocent people. The UK needs to stop selling these weapons. The Government cannot give humanitarian aid and speak of its desire for peace in the region and at the same time ship bombs. It is intellectually and morally contradictory.

“That the law does not prohibit the trade seems to be irrelevant. If we are knowingly selling weapons that are being used to kill thousands of innocent children and their parents, why continue?”

Despite not being able to enter Gaza because of the attacks on Rafah, Begum said she was left “in a state of shock” after hearing first-hand accounts of the humanitarian crisis from Palestinian colleagues who had fled Gaza.

The former ActionAid CEO said during his visit he visited Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest site, and prayed for the people of Gaza and the Israeli hostages, 120 of whom remain in Palestinian custody, at least 40 of whom are believed to have died.

She noted there was precedent for the UK and US refusing to provide arms to Israel, pointing to their governments’ decisions to do so in 1982 after Israel’s invasion of Lebanon (Tony Blair did the same in 2002).

“Margaret Thatcher halted arms sales to Israel during the Lebanon war. Ronald Reagan Shipments of cluster bombs were halted in July 1982. And he People reportedly shocked by images of dismembered Palestinian children On August 12, he warned Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. “Our entire future relationship is at stake. “If this continues,” Israel said. Complete ceasefire That means this isn’t the first time the British or American governments have had to draw a moral line.”

“I fully condemn the hostage-taking and brutality by both sides. But now 37,000 Palestinians are dead, children in Gaza are being bombed, suffering from malnutrition and facing possible starvation and the UK is still failing to rein in the Israeli army. I cannot believe we are supporting this action. Our humanity seems to be slipping away.”

According to government figures released last week, the UK issued 108 arms export licences to Israel between the 7 October attacks and 31 May, and no arms export licence applications were refused or cancelled during that period.

Begum said countries in the Global South were largely in agreement about what was needed in Gaza and that “it was only Western leaders who seemed not to know what was morally right.” She expressed concern that the Western stance was jeopardizing the prospects for a post-conflict international order based on humanitarian law and human rights principles.

“If you have a friend and they’re behaving badly, you can still say, ‘Look, as a friend, you shouldn’t do that,'” she said. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t offer them support. In terms of the whole architecture of Israel’s right to self-defense, I feel that every country has the right to defend itself, but it shouldn’t have to come at the cost of ripping humanitarian law to shreds without touching any local human rights.”

The judicial review of arms sales to Israel is being brought by Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq and the UK-based Global Legal Action Network (Gran). Oxfam previously intervened in a case brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), successfully arguing that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which is waging a war in Yemen, were illegal.

The British government declined to comment.