equipment being used in Israeli attacks
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