View from London: ICC must investigate British ministers for complicity in Gaza war crimes

11:46 27.05.2024 •

Now the International Criminal Court is seeking to issue an arrest warrant for Benjamin Netanyahu, it must investigate his accomplices in the British government. Seven British ministers – including Rishi Sunak, David Cameron, Grant Shapps and Kemi Badenoch – must be investigated for aiding Israel, writes Mark Curtis, the director of Declassified UK, and the author of five books and many articles on UK foreign policy.

With the ICC’s chief prosecutor issuing an application for an arrest warrant against Israel’s prime minister for “war crimes and crimes against humanity”, attention must turn to those who have aided Israel.

British ministers have for months been materially assisting Israel during its onslaught against Palestinians in Gaza. This support is being provided in three main ways.

First, the UK is providing arms to Israel. Recently filed court documents reveal that, as of January this year, the UK government had 28 extant and 28 pending “high-risk” licences with Israel marked as “most likely to be used by the IDF in offensive operations in Gaza”.

On 18 January, Israeli forces bombed a residential compound in Gaza housing the emergency medical team of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), a British charity. Four British doctors were injured in the airstrike, alongside MAP staff members and a bodyguard.

The attack was carried out by an F-16 jet, components for which have been supplied by UK companies.

Second, the UK military is training Israeli armed forces personnel in Britain during genocide.

The government has admitted that “there are currently six Israeli Armed Forces officers posted in the UK”. It says “Israel is represented by Armed Forces personnel in its Embassy in the UK, and as participants in UK defence-led training courses”.

Third, the UK military is conducting spy flights over Gaza in support of Israel. Declassified has found that over 200 surveillance missions over Gaza have been undertaken by the Royal Air Force, which is likely to have gathered around 1,000 hours of surveillance footage.

British ministers are refusing to provide detailed information about these three areas of activity to parliament, likely to avoid prosecution for complicity in war crimes.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) is, for example, refusing to give parliament further information about its training of Israeli military personnel in Britain or a military agreement signed with Israel in 2020.

The UK government is also refusing to give any details about the spy flights over Gaza, which began on 3 December.

Court documents show UK ministers decided to continue arms exports to Israel on 8 April, one week after the strike that killed three British aid workers who were employed by the charity World Central Kitchen.


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