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24 Okt 2023

Daniel Hurst, The Guardian

Australia: Criticism against government's 322 approved defence exports to Israel and calls for greater transparency and human rights due diligence on its role in Gaza assault

"Australia approved 322 defence exports to Israel in six years as Greens fear equipment used in Gaza assault"

Australia has approved 322 defence exports to Israel over the past six years, according to new figures that will fuel questions at a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

The government-compiled figures, which include 49 permits for Israel-bound exports last year and 23 in the first three months of this year, may cover both military-specific goods and also dual-use devices.

The Greens’ defence spokesperson, David Shoebridge, said Australia had “one of the most secretive and unaccountable weapons export systems in the world”, given that it doesn’t break down the exact items exported.

Shoebridge, who will ask the defence department about the exports at a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Wednesday, said he held “a very deep concern that Australian material is being used in the attack on Gaza”...

In response to questions on notice from Shoebridge, the government disclosed that 322 permits for Israel-bound military or dual-use exports had been issued since 1 January 2017...

“Every export permit decision must assess any relevant human rights risks and Australia’s compliance with its international obligations,” the government response said.

“If Defence identified an export might be used to facilitate human rights abuses, a permit would be refused.”

The government said each export application was assessed against criteria that include foreign policy, human rights, national security, regional security and Australia’s international obligations such as the arms trade treaty.

But the Greens argue Australia should join other countries in publishing “who we are selling weapons to, what those weapons are and how much they cost”...

Last week a veteran US state department official quit his role in protest against arms sales to Israel, saying he had made many “moral compromises” during his 11 years at the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs...

“I am leaving today because I believe that in our current course with regards to the continued – indeed, expanded and expedited – provision of lethal arms to Israel, I have reached the end of that bargain,” Paul wrote...

Part of the following timelines

Palestine/Israel: International companies supplying weapons to Israel face growing direct action amid calls to governments to enact an arms embargo against Israel

Australia: Port protests against an Israeli shipping company and NGOs lawsuit highlight the government's "secretive" arms trade and licensing exports; Incl. Co. comment