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More than 40 Israeli firms among 'world's worst arms dealers' at London weapons fair

Activists promise two-week 'resistance' campaign against annual Defence and Security Equipment International event
Handguns on display inside the ExCeL centre in London in September 2015 during the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition
Handguns on display at the Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition at the ExCeL centre in London in September 2015 (AFP)

Dozens of Israeli arms companies are set to take part in London's annual arms fair on Tuesday, an event campaigners have branded "a marketplace in death and destruction".

The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) takes place at the ExCeL centre in London each year and has repeatedly come in for criticism from anti-arms trade activists. It is scheduled to be held between 12 and 15 September.

Among those attending will be BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Thales as well as more than 40 Israeli arms companies that have been accused of complicities in human rights abuses carried out against Palestinians.

In a statement on Monday, Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) said the companies taking part read as a "who's who of the world's worst arms dealers".

"Israel is an apartheid state, and it is disgusting that the UK is not only selling weapons to Israel but encouraging Israeli arms companies to sell their weapons in London," said Emily Apple, CAAT's media coordinator, adding that companies like Elbit "battle test" their weapons on Palestinians in the occupied territories.

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"Deals done at DSEI will cause misery across the world, causing global instability, and devastating people’s lives. Representatives from regimes such as Saudi Arabia, who have used UK-made weapons to commit war crimes in Yemen, will be wined and dined and encouraged to buy yet more arms."

She added that activists, including those from the campaign group Stop the Arms Fair (STAF), would be waiting to greet the assembled visitors at the ExCeL centre and would be "coordinating a fortnight of resistance".

The DSEI  is supported by the UK government’s Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) and features representatives from an array of private companies and governments, including many engaged in routine human rights abuses, according to anti-arms trade campaigners and human rights organisations.

It is regularly the target of protesters who accuse it of normalising the sale of weapons to despotic governments.

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