UK

Arms Sold:

Additional Arms:
Litening, Drone-Dome, MIC4AD, IronVision, JFST, Fortify, Jaguar, Gas-Canisters, ESM System

Companies:

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UK

Introduction

The UK and Israel maintain strong ties around technology, investment, research and security. The UK purchased a large amount of arms and security technology from Israel, including drones and advanced defense systems, often manufactured in joint ventures. In the 2010s cybersecurity has become a key area of UK-Israeli cooperation.

Israel – UK Relations

Diplomatic relations between the UK and Israel were founded in 1949. The British embassy to Israel is located in Tel Aviv and the Israeli embassy is located in London.

In 1998 Israel and the UK established the Britain-Israel Joint Technology Investment Fund (BRITECH) with an initial $25m investment from each country.[1]Britain-Israel Relations: Britain-Israel Joint Technology Investment Fund (BRITECH) In 2008 the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange (BIRAX) was founded.[2]Britain-Israel Relations: Britain-Israel Research & Academic Exchange Partnership (BIRAX) In 2015 new bilateral research and development programs were announced. Israel’s Science, Technology, and Space Ministry announced $1.5 million NIS in funding for bilateral research on water, agriculture, nanotechnology, and medicine.[3]UK-Israel Relations

The UK and Israel have a double taxation treaty.[4]Israel: tax treaties Tax treaties and related documents between the UK and Israel. There are over 300 Israeli companies operating in the UK representing sectors including high tech, pharmaceutical and finance. In 2017 the UK was Israel’s number one destination for investment in Europe. Bilateral trade between the UK and Israel reached in 2018 a record high of over $10bn. Israeli exports totaled $4.3 billion, an increase of 21 percent since 2012.[5]UK-Israel Relations The UK imports pharmaceutical products, plastic products, machinery and mechanical appliances, electrical machinery and equipment, and fruit and vegetables.[6]UK-Israel Relations

The UK-Israel Tech Hub, based in the British Embassy in Israel, has fostered 175 tech partnerships and 54 deals worth a total of $112m since its inception in 2011. In 2018 an agreement was signed to expand scientific cooperation between Israel and Britain.

Military Relations

In 1982 the UK imposed an arms embargo on Israel in response to the invasion of Lebanon which was only to be lifted in 1994.[7]Britain lifts arms embargo against Israel

Arms sales, mainly from Rafael and Elbit, to the UK increased in 2006-2012 for British use in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The UK also uses the Watchkeeper UAS which is modelled on the Elbit Hermes 450 and is produced through a joint venture of Elbit and Thales UK in a contract priced at £800-million. In 2005, the UK announced that it would buy new drones based on the Hermes 450 design. As a result, Elbit formed the U-TacS partnership (of which it owns a 51% stake) with French company Thales to supply 54 Watchkeeper drones to the Ministry of Defense. Although, on the face of it, the Watchkeeper is a reconnaissance drone, it has been displayed in several arms fairs bearing missiles. There is no evidence, however, that the UK has deployed it armed.[8]Watchkeeper drones cost taxpayers £1bn

Since 2016, Elbit has run a joint venture called Affinity Training with US company KBR. Affinity has a flight training school at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire in the UK, partnering with the MoD to train British pilots.[9]Affinity Official Website [10]Elbit Systems, KBR win 500 million pound UK Defence Ministry contract Affinity’s contract with the MoD is worth £500m over 18 years.[11]Elbit Systems, KBR win 500 million pound UK Defence Ministry contract

In 2017, the company also entered into an agreement with Babcock International, a British multinational, to establish a joint company to deliver another training program to the MoD. The plan was to deliver outsourced training to the air force over a fifteen year period.[12]Elbit Systems and Babcock International Partner to Pursue UK MOD’s ASDOT Programme

Elbit Systems UK had in 2019 nine production sites and offices in the UK. Between 2018-2020 Britain’s Ministry of Defense has bought £46-million worth of military equipment from Elbit.[13]Ties that bind: Britain buys £46m of Israeli military equipment and stations troops in Israel

In 2017, the UK bought an Israeli defense system know as the Sky Sabre, that is based on technology developed for the Iron Dome, for $92.3 million to help defend the Falkland Islands off the coast of Argentina.[14]UK to Buy ‘Sky Sabre’ Missile Shield for $92 Million to Protect Falkland Islands In 2018 the UK Ministry of Defense announced the purchase of six anti-drone systems developed by Rafael, in a deal valued at $20 million total.[15]Rafael to sell 6 anti-drone systems to UK for $20m

In November 2017, the head of Britain’s armed forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach officially visited Israel to discuss future military cooperation.[16]Momentum for Strengthening UK-Israel Relationship?

In 2020 The UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) awarded Elbit with a contract worth almost £1 million to demonstrate and develop UAVs, to enhance coastal surveillance operations with the purpose of tracking migrants on British coasts.[17]The UK is spending big on migrant-tracking drones to surveil the seas [18]‘Serious questions!’ Concern as UK Coastguard project linked with ‘conflict drones’ In December 2020 the Israeli Army and the British Armed Forces signed a Defense-Relations agreement, which details are secret.[19]IDF, British Armed Forces sign defense relations agreement

The UK also exports a large volume of weapons to Israel. Between 2015-2020 the UK exported weapons for $445-million to Israel.[20]Britain’s relationship with Israel is thriving, but must be defended in an increasingly hostile climate [21]The raw truth about the UK’s special relationship with Israel [22]UK Export Licence Data

In 2020 Elbit demonstrated Seagull USV (unmanned surface vessel) capabilities in anti-submarine warfare trials of the UK MOD.[23]Elbit Systems UK Demonstrated USV Capabilities in Anti-Submarine Warfare Trials of the UK MOD

In 2021 IAI has been awarded a contract by the British Ministry of Defence to deliver four “Jaguar” remote patrol vehicles (RPVs).[24]IAI to supply remote patrol vehicles to British Army

Joint Training

In 2016 and 2017 Britain and Israel conducted joint naval exercises and in 2018 British and Spanish warships conducted a joint NATO-Israel naval exercise in Israel.[25]The raw truth about the UK’s special relationship with Israel

In 2019 Israeli, American and British F-35 combat fighters conducted a joint exercise. In another joint combat exercise in Britain, the IAF and the RAF cooperated with the German and Italian air forces.[26]In First, U.K. Confirms F-35 Exercise With Israel, and Sorties in Iraq, Syria [27]UK-Israel Relations

Police

In 2019 Neil Basu, head of counter-terrorism for britain’s national police addressed an arms fair in Israel in 2019.

Britain’s National Police Air Services (NPAS) participated in trials of drones, produced by Elbit in 2019, as part of their plans to use military-grade drones to pursue suspects and monitor protests.[28]Home Office Plans To Use Military-Grade Drones To Pursue Suspects And Monitor Protests Are Raising Privacy Concerns [29]Ties that bind: Britain buys £46m of Israeli military equipment and stations troops in Israel

Cyber Security

Documents revealed by Edward Snowden in 2014 showed that the US National Security Agency with Britain’s spy Centre GCHQ as a key partner, was providing to its Israeli counterpart, the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU, also known as Unit 8200) data used to monitor and target Palestinians.[30]CASH, WEAPONS AND SURVEILLANCE: THE U.S. IS A KEY PARTY TO EVERY ISRAELI ATTACK/ Cybersecurity has become a key area of UK-Israeli cooperation. A recent report by the British Israeli lobby group, Bicom, notes that “government-to-government cooperation between the UK and Israel in cybersecurity is strong and has been described by a senior UK official as a ‘first-order partnership’”.[31]UK-Israel relations after Brexit: cyber security/ 337 Israeli high-tech companies operated in the UK in 2018, an increase of 60% from 2013.[32]Momentum for Strengthening UK-Israel Relationship?

In February 2020, The British government was widely criticized after espionage software provider NSO Group has been invited to a secretive security trade fair “Security and Policing” in Farnborough, UK. The Israeli company Pro4tech Ltd also participated in the fair. In 2019 the Israeli company Anyvision (Oosto) participated in the same fair. Anyvision develops face recognition and was criticized worldwide after its technology was reportedly used against Palestinians in the West-Bank.[33]Omega research foundation : Security and Policing Home Office Event

In January 2022 In an interview to AFP CEO of Israeli Facial Recognition Company Corsight AI, Rob Watts, said that British police were piloting its technology.[34]Israeli firm develops body cams with facial recognition In 2021 Corsight AI employed Tony Porter, who served for seven years as the UK’s surveillance camera commissioner (SCC), as their new chief privacy officer (CPO).[35]TONY PORTER JOINS CORSIGHT AI AS CHIEF PRIVACY OFFICER

The Israeli surveillance-technology company BriefCam was incorporated in the UK in 2019.[36]Company Information UK – BriefCam IndigoVision, Axis Communications and Reliance High Tech sell it products in the UK to police forces, local councils and educational establishments.[37]Mass Surveillance Project – companies UK

Usage of Israeli Arms

Hermes 450 – was used extensively by Britain in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2014. In 2013 British controlled Hermes 450s had completed 70,000 hours flight time in Afghanistan.[38]Hermes 450 reaches 70,000 hours in Afghanistan In September 2014 the British Army stopped using Hermes 450s and started using the Watchkeeper, based on the H-450 and co-produced by Thales and Elbit.

Spike-NLOS (or ‘Exactor) – Spike missiles were used by the British army  in Iraq before being transferred to Afghanistan.[39]Spike NLOS (EXACTOR)

UFED – In the UK Cellebrite has been contracted by several police forces: Police Scotland, Leicestershire Police, Sussex Police, Gloucestershire Constabulary, Cumbria Police and South Wales Police.[40]Mass Surveilance Cellebrite Report  In 2018, the UK Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement authority made a payment of £45,000 to Cellebrite.[41]Surveillance Company Cellebrite Finds a New Exploit: Spying on Asylum Seekers Reports in the U.K. have revealed that Cellebrite’s technology is also used by London’s Metropolitan Police (also known as Scotland Yard).[42]‘Stop Using Cellebrite’: Israeli, U.K. Police Urged to Stop Using Phone-hacking Tech In 2019 the Scottish Police Authority purchased Cellebrite’s technology.[43]OLD LAW, NEW TECH AND CONTINUED OPACITY: POLICE SCOTLAND’S USE OF MOBILE PHONE EXTRACTION [44]Scottish Police Deploy Tech That Extracts Data from Locked Smartphones

BriefCam – were sold to UK police forces, local councils, educational establishments and the National Health Service.[45]Mass Surveillance Project – companies UK

Human Rights Violations

Extensive evidence and testimony has been provided indicating war crimes committed by British troops in Iraq after 2003 including torture and sexual abuse.[46]Is Britain guilty of systemic torture in Iraq? In 2011 allegations were made that were later shown to be true that British soldiers committed war crimes in Afghanistan including extrajudicial execution of non-threatening civilians and surrendered enemy fighters.[47]UK War Crime Revelations in Afghanistan Expose Justice Failings The UK failed to and deliberately hindered the prosecution of these crimes by shutting down criminal inquiries and Boris Johnson’s Conservative government trying to pass the Overseas Operations Bill that create “presumption against prosecution” for British alleged-perpetrators of war crimes.[48]UK Bill a License for Military Crimes? [49]‘Rogue SAS Afghanistan execution squad’ exposed by email trail

In 2019, a new counterterrorism law entered into force, including measures that criminalize viewing online content, overseas travel and support to terrorism and could result in human rights violations.[50]Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 UK authorities continued to exercise powers to strip citizenship from UK nationals suspected of terrorism-related activity.[51]Deprivation of Citizenship Status [52]HRW United Kingdom Events of 2019 – Part of the EU Chapter

Amnesty International has carried out in-depth field investigations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, documenting hundreds of cases of civilians killed in Strikes, conducted by Britain’s air force.[53]‘Serious questions!’ Concern as UK Coastguard project linked with ‘conflict drones’ Reports of the US military show that the RAF dropped almost 4,500 bombs and missiles over Iraq and Syria between 2015-2020, including civilian casualties.[54]US military says RAF airstrikes may have killed civilians in war against Islamic State /

In 2018 European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that UK’s state surveillance practices violated human rights law.[55]UK’s mass surveillance regime violated human rights law, finds ECHR/ [56]UK Surveillance Regime Violated Human Rights

References
1 Britain-Israel Relations: Britain-Israel Joint Technology Investment Fund (BRITECH)
2 Britain-Israel Relations: Britain-Israel Research & Academic Exchange Partnership (BIRAX)
3 UK-Israel Relations
4 Israel: tax treaties Tax treaties and related documents between the UK and Israel.
5 UK-Israel Relations
6 UK-Israel Relations
7 Britain lifts arms embargo against Israel
8 Watchkeeper drones cost taxpayers £1bn
9 Affinity Official Website
10 Elbit Systems, KBR win 500 million pound UK Defence Ministry contract
11 Elbit Systems, KBR win 500 million pound UK Defence Ministry contract
12 Elbit Systems and Babcock International Partner to Pursue UK MOD’s ASDOT Programme
13 Ties that bind: Britain buys £46m of Israeli military equipment and stations troops in Israel
14 UK to Buy ‘Sky Sabre’ Missile Shield for $92 Million to Protect Falkland Islands
15 Rafael to sell 6 anti-drone systems to UK for $20m
16 Momentum for Strengthening UK-Israel Relationship?
17 The UK is spending big on migrant-tracking drones to surveil the seas
18 ‘Serious questions!’ Concern as UK Coastguard project linked with ‘conflict drones’
19 IDF, British Armed Forces sign defense relations agreement
20 Britain’s relationship with Israel is thriving, but must be defended in an increasingly hostile climate
21 The raw truth about the UK’s special relationship with Israel
22 UK Export Licence Data
23 Elbit Systems UK Demonstrated USV Capabilities in Anti-Submarine Warfare Trials of the UK MOD
24 IAI to supply remote patrol vehicles to British Army
25 The raw truth about the UK’s special relationship with Israel
26 In First, U.K. Confirms F-35 Exercise With Israel, and Sorties in Iraq, Syria
27 UK-Israel Relations
28 Home Office Plans To Use Military-Grade Drones To Pursue Suspects And Monitor Protests Are Raising Privacy Concerns
29 Ties that bind: Britain buys £46m of Israeli military equipment and stations troops in Israel
30 CASH, WEAPONS AND SURVEILLANCE: THE U.S. IS A KEY PARTY TO EVERY ISRAELI ATTACK/
31 UK-Israel relations after Brexit: cyber security/
32 Momentum for Strengthening UK-Israel Relationship?
33 Omega research foundation : Security and Policing Home Office Event
34 Israeli firm develops body cams with facial recognition
35 TONY PORTER JOINS CORSIGHT AI AS CHIEF PRIVACY OFFICER
36 Company Information UK – BriefCam
37 Mass Surveillance Project – companies UK
38 Hermes 450 reaches 70,000 hours in Afghanistan
39 Spike NLOS (EXACTOR)
40 Mass Surveilance Cellebrite Report
41 Surveillance Company Cellebrite Finds a New Exploit: Spying on Asylum Seekers
42 ‘Stop Using Cellebrite’: Israeli, U.K. Police Urged to Stop Using Phone-hacking Tech
43 OLD LAW, NEW TECH AND CONTINUED OPACITY: POLICE SCOTLAND’S USE OF MOBILE PHONE EXTRACTION
44 Scottish Police Deploy Tech That Extracts Data from Locked Smartphones
45 Mass Surveillance Project – companies UK
46 Is Britain guilty of systemic torture in Iraq?
47 UK War Crime Revelations in Afghanistan Expose Justice Failings
48 UK Bill a License for Military Crimes?
49 ‘Rogue SAS Afghanistan execution squad’ exposed by email trail
50 Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019
51 Deprivation of Citizenship Status
52 HRW United Kingdom Events of 2019 – Part of the EU Chapter
53 ‘Serious questions!’ Concern as UK Coastguard project linked with ‘conflict drones’
54 US military says RAF airstrikes may have killed civilians in war against Islamic State /
55 UK’s mass surveillance regime violated human rights law, finds ECHR/
56 UK Surveillance Regime Violated Human Rights