Gaza conflict prompts criticism of European countries' continued arms sales to Israel


(MENAFN) The ongoing conflict in Gaza has prompted scrutiny and criticism of European countries' continued arms sales to Israel, despite accusations of committing genocide and significant humanitarian concerns. A Turkish news agency’s compilation of data on military sales since the outbreak of its war with Hamas on October 7, 2023, highlights the substantial role of several European nations and the United States in supplying arms to Israel.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), between 2019 and 2023, France, Italy, Germany, and the US collectively accounted for 81 percent of arms imports to the Middle East, underscoring their pivotal role in the region's arms trade dynamics. Israel's military spending surged by 24 percent to USD27.5 billion in the wake of its military actions in Gaza, solidifying its position as one of the largest arms spenders in the Middle East.

Over the period from 2014 to 2022, the European Union granted export licenses totaling approximately €6.3 billion (USD6.8 billion) for arms sales to Israel. These exports have come under intense scrutiny amid reports linking them to civilian casualties in Gaza, with tragic figures indicating the deaths of over 38,000 civilians, including a significant number of women and children.

Despite efforts by some European countries like Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain to halt arms sales to Israel, there have been persistent reports suggesting that such trade may continue through indirect channels or despite official announcements of suspensions.

The situation underscores deep ethical and geopolitical dilemmas faced by arms-exporting countries, balancing economic interests with humanitarian responsibilities in conflict zones. As international pressure mounts for greater accountability and cessation of arms supplies, the issue remains contentious and complex, reflecting broader debates about arms control and the ethics of military trade in conflict-affected regions.

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