Coalition of Voices for Peace: over 200 organizations demand an end to the arms trade with Israel

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Jorge Salas
  • The initiative arises from the distress caused by indiscriminate bombings in the Gaza Strip
    The initiative arises from the distress caused by indiscriminate bombings in the Gaza Strip. Source: 'Stop the arms trade with Israel' campaign.
  • More than 70% of the Palestinian population in Gaza has had to leave their homes.
    More than 70% of the Palestinian population in Gaza has had to leave their homes. Source: CC License.

The campaign 'End the arms trade with Israel' brings together different entities urging the Spanish government to stop buying and selling weapons to Israel.

In the grim context of the Israeli army's bombings in Gaza, an alliance of over 200 organizations has emerged in Spain. They've united under the banner of a campaign demanding an end to the state's arms trade with Israel. 'Stop the arms trade with Israel' is an urgent call, a collective voice demanding an immediate halt to military and security transactions with a country involved in suspicion of war crimes and human rights violations.

The initiative arises from the distress caused by indiscriminate bombings in the Gaza Strip: horrors are multiplying, and the United Nations confirms the murder of over 10,000 Palestinians in just one month—4,100 of whom are minors. Among the more than two hundred signing entities of the #StopArmesAmbIsrael petition are political and environmental organizations, feminist associations, bookstores, trade unions, and foundations of various kinds.

In a scenario where the World Health Organization has documented over a hundred attacks on healthcare in Gaza—resulting in 504 deaths—the calls from the International Criminal Court, human rights agencies, and the United Nations continue. Amidst this chaos, the responsibility also falls on Israel's allies, whom this campaign urges to act (among other ways, by severing their military relations).

The cessation of arms sales to Israel is, according to the petition signatories, an urgent plea concerning human rights. "It emerges with the ambition of being a unified campaign that gathers many diverse organizations from across the Spanish state," they state from the website where individuals can also sign the initiative: "We believe that there are many voices advocating that all individuals deserve to live in equality, freedom, and dignity in their lands, and we want this to be a platform to advance towards this shared goal."

More than 28 million euros in defense material exports

According to official data, over 70% of the Palestinian population in Gaza has had to leave their homes to seek refuge in places that, as has happened with around fifty UN facilities, are not exempt from suffering damage due to the Israeli army's bombings. In addition to data from international entities, 'Stop the arms trade with Israel' provides a report on Spain's military relationship with Israel.

The petition demanding that the Spanish state cease its commercial exchanges of military and security nature with Israel is based on data extracted from reports by the State Secretariat for Trade during the period 2005-2022. Spanish arms exports authorized to Israel amounted to 136.45 million euros, while those carried out reached 28.67 million euros. According to the platform, this flow violates several criteria of the Common Position 2008/944/PESC regulating the control of exports of military technology and equipment.

#StopArmesAmbIsrael points out worrying examples such as the Spike missile program, for which it claims hundreds of millions of euros have been allocated, ultimately surpassing the total of Spanish arms exports to Israel. Additionally, various Spanish companies maintain commercial ties with Israeli military companies, supplying materials of various kinds, from drones to surveillance and control systems.

The contradiction between Spanish laws and transactions with Israel

According to the campaign, the existence of subsidiaries of Israeli military companies in Spain "is symptomatic of the close military cooperation" between the two states and adds another layer to this complex network of transactions. These subsidiaries, apparently unknown to the general public, operate in areas such as the manufacturing of explosives, unmanned vehicles, and security systems; moreover, Israeli companies provide espionage and communications interception services to various Spanish entities.

Calls to prohibit the sale of weapons to Israel are also based, according to the report, on the violation of Spanish and European guidelines, as well as the support for a military and security model that contributes to maintaining the occupation and apartheid regime in Israel. The report indicates that there is a contradiction between Spanish laws and arms transactions with Israel; an issue that emphasizes the urgency of a reconsideration in the commercial and military relationships between the two countries.

Even more challenging: the peculiar relationship of the European Union with Israel

The platform adds that, within the legal context, the sale of weapons to Israel and the importation of military material violate both Spanish and European regulations. Law 53/2007 and the International Arms Trade Treaty prohibit, as indicated by the organization, the sale of armaments to countries in conflict or involved in human rights violations. In the past, similar embargoes to those demanded by #StopArmesAmbIsrael have been applied as a pressure measure.

The campaign concludes that Israel, considered as an 'associated country,' also receives significant funding from the EU for R&D projects that enhance arms companies and military technology: statistics reveal how the Israeli military industry will have received nearly 70 million euros for projects by the end of the period 2008-2027. This collaboration, albeit financial, opens a window for the commercialization of military products in the European market.

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