NGOs sue Israeli shipping company ZIM for trafficking arms

A group of Belgian NGOs have filed a criminal complaint against the Israeli shipping company ZIM for violating the Belgium's arms trade decree, they announced Wednesday.

The decree states that if there is a risk that goods are intended for war crimes, a licence is required for their transit through the country. According to the NGOs, the shipping company ZIM is violating this rule.

According to the NGOs, illegal shipments have been taking place in Belgium since 2017. No figures are available for the period since 7 October.

'Controls are negligent'

Since 2009, the Belgian regions have agreed not to allow arms exports with the Israeli army as the end-user. The export of components such as imaging technology for private companies is allowed.

"We demand that all authorities in this country apply the law and that all licences and transit be suspended," the NGOs said. "In practice, military equipment is getting through; the controls are negligent."

According to a recent study by the International Peace Information Service and the NGO Vredesactie, licences worth at least 43 million euros have been issued in recent years for the export of gunpowder, drone materials and F-16 aircraft parts.

246 tonnes of ammunition and weapons

More than 246 tonnes of ammunition and other weapons are said to have been shipped to Israel via the port of Antwerp and Liège airport. According to Vredesactie, no transit licence was requested for any of these shipments, "although this is a legal requirement".

Had such a licence been requested, ZIM would not have received it, as the Flemish government cannot authorise the export or transit of weapons to Israel if the end-user is the Israeli government.

Total import halt

The organisations are calling for a total halt to the import, export and transit of arms, as well as all military cooperation with the Israeli arms industry.

"Belgium already supported a UN resolution to this effect in the Human Rights Council at the beginning of April, but the various governments responsible have so far failed to put their own money where their mouth is," the NGOs say.

The NGOs filing the complaint include 11.11.11, Association Belgo-Palestinienne, Al-Haq Europe, Broederlijk Delen, De-Colonizer, Vrede vzw, Oxfam and Vredesactie.



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