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Israel training British army in drone use

19 January 2011 7,976 views No Comment

By Paddy McGuffin.

Human rights campaigners slammed revelations today that British troops were being trained in the use of attack drones by Israeli forces as “shameful.”

The use of the pilotless craft by Israel during its recent assault on Gaza has been roundly condemned by human rights organisations.

Campaigners warned that the drones had been used in “extra-judicial” killings and “serious human rights abuses by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza.”

The Ministry of Defence has placed a £1 billion order for a consignment of Watchkeeper UAV 450 drones, manufactured by Israeli arms firm Elbit and its partner Thales UK.

Today Sky News reported that British troops were being trained in the use of Hermes UAV 450 drones, on which the Watchkeeper is based, in Israel.

A spokeswoman for the MoD confirmed that British soldiers were being trained by the Israel military.

She said: “UK military personnel conduct training around the world to prepare for operations.

“Small numbers of British forces travel to Israel for contractor-provided pre-deployment training on the unarmed Hermes 450 UAV and its replacement, the Watchkeeper.”

Amnesty International UK campaigns director Tim Hancock said that it was “wholly inappropriate for UK forces to be trained in the use of drones by a country with a track record of applying this technology in grave abuses of people’s human rights.

“There is already growing international concern over the use of drones in remote unlawful killings – sometimes amounting to extrajudicial executions.”

Sarah Colborne of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said the Israeli government was using Palestinians as “a testing ground” to develop its weaponry.

“It is obscene that Britain is sending troops to be trained by the Israeli army on the use of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which were used to such lethal effect in Israel’s war on Gaza.”

War on Want spokeswoman Yasmin Khan added: “Elbit not only commits human rights abuses against Palestinians with weapons made in UK factories, it also supports Israel’s illegal occupation through surveillance and electronics systems along the apartheid wall in the West Bank and in surrounding settlements.

“It is shameful that the British government is collaborating with a firm complicit in war crimes against the Palestinian people.”

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