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UK equipment being used in Israeli attacks

Richard Norton-Taylor
May 29, 2002

Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, is demanding an explanation from Israel about the use of British equipment in Israeli tanks and attack helicopters, the two main weapons used against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, the Guardian has learned.

Evidence that parts of the systems are made by British companies contradicts Israeli assurances that British arms would not be used in the territories.

Israeli Merkava tanks have been equipped with cooling systems made by the Airtechnology Group, the Surrey-based company confirmed yesterday. It said the equipment had not been supplied to Israel since 1996.

British equipment, including missile trigger systems, are also used in American Apache helicopters supplied to Israel.

They are made by Smiths Group, whose US subsidiaries supply a number of key parts for the helicopters, which have been repeatedly used in attacks on Palestinian areas.

In April, the government asked Israel to explain how the chassis from British Centurion tanks, exported between 1958 and 1970, came to be used in armoured personnel carriers in the Occupied Territories.

The Foreign Office said the modification contradicted a written pledge from Israel in November 2000 that "no UK-originated equipment ... are used as part of the defence force's activities in the territories".

Jack Straw revealed then that Israel had refused to give a pledge that the armoured cars would no longer be used in operations against Palestinians.