THE Government has issued export licences worth at least £7.9 billion for the sale to Israel of arms and other dual-use military equipment - although not all of it is destined for armed forces.

Details published last month by the Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) show they include small arms ammunition, weapons sights, military communications equipment and "all-wheel-drive vehicles with ballistic protection" as well as a components for an array of equipment of various kinds.

One licence has been issued in relation to the American-built Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme, which is due to start arriving in Israel from 2016 with the first aircraft becoming operational in 2018. Licences have also been issued for components for assault rifles, pistols, helmets, body armour and military vehicles along with permits covering various forms of cryptographic equipment.

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The biggest single licence - worth more than £7.7 billion - is for "equipment employing cryptography and software for equipment employing cryptography" which was originally issued in early 2013.

Ministers have said that while the use of cryptographic equipment meant a licence was required, the goods covered were in fact for the "purely commercial" building of public mobile phone networks.

In all, the CAEC said there are currently 381 valid licences for export of equipment to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Ministers have told the CAEC that all the licences were issued in compliance with Government guidelines, which forbid the export of arms or other equipment if there is a risk it could be used for internal repression.ends