Updated January 18, 2024
Following the October 7 attacks by Hamas, in which more than 700 Israeli civilians and foreign nationals were killed and hundreds more kidnapped, both acts being war crimes, Israel launched an unprecedented assault on the Gaza Strip. The ensuing military campaign, named Operation Iron Swords, has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, with most being civilians. Amnesty International has said that there is “damning evidence of war crimes in Israel’s bombing campaign”; this conclusion has been reiterated by other credible observers, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
As the international community grapples with the humanitarian consequences of this conflict, a critical concern has come into focus: the flow of foreign arms to the conflict parties. Canada has long exported military goods to one of these parties – Israel – and the annual value of these transfers has recently increased.
Of particular significance is Canada’s supply of military components to the United States, some of which are later supplied to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). These Canadian-made components include some integrated into the Israeli F-35I Joint Strike Fighter, which has reportedly been utilized in the ongoing bombardment of Gaza.
The gravity of this situation calls for immediate action to ensure Canada is meeting its domestic and international obligations to mitigate the risk of contributing to violations of international law, for example, violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), including possible war crimes, in Gaza. Given the substantial risk that Canadian military goods could contribute to such abuses in Gaza, Canada must immediately halt all transfers of weapons to Israel.
Project Ploughshares is monitoring Canadian arms exports for the potential that such arms could be used in ongoing violations in other parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. However, the analysis of this report focuses solely on exports that relate to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Cover image: Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli airstrike on the El-Remal area in Gaza City on October 9, 2023. Credit: Palestinian News & Information Agency (Wafa) in contract with APAimages / CC BY-SA 3.0.