Britain says reviewing arms exports to Israel over Gaza conflict

LONDON Mon Aug 4, 2014 5:11pm IST

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron leaves Downing Street in London July 31, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron leaves Downing Street in London July 31, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Neil Hall

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is reviewing all arms export licences to Israel in response to the Jewish state's escalating conflict with Hamas in Gaza, a government spokeswoman said on Monday.

Israel launched an offensive against Hamas almost four weeks ago following a surge in cross-border rocket salvoes. Gaza officials say 1,797 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed, while Israel has lost 64 soldiers in combat and three civilians to Palestinian shelling.

"We are currently reviewing all export licences to Israel to confirm that we think they are appropriate," a spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters. The decision to conduct the review was taken last week, she said.

According to a report by a British parliamentary committee last month, outstanding government-approved contracts for export of dual use or military goods to Israel are worth more than 7.8 billion pounds ($13.12 billion). These include contracts to supply body armour, drone components, and missile parts.

"Clearly the current situation has changed compared to when some licences will have been granted, and we're reviewing those existing licences against the current situation but no decisions have been taken beyond going back again and reviewing," the spokeswoman said.

Britain's opposition Labour party has accused Cameron of not condemning Israel's behaviour forcefully enough, a charge he rejects.

($1 = 0.5944 British Pounds)

(Reporting by William James and Kylie Maclellan; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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