Canada’s weapons sales may make it complicit of violations in international law, war crimes and genocide in Gaza

Published by Brent Patterson on

Video still: At least 67 Palestinians were killed and many others wounded by Israeli airstrikes and ground operations on Monday morning (2 am local time) in Rafah.

This morning, the Associated Press reports: “Judges in the Netherlands on Monday [February 12] ordered the Dutch government to halt the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel, citing a clear risk of violations of international law.”

That article adds: “A trio of human rights organizations [have] argued that delivery of parts for the aircraft makes the Netherlands complicit in possible war crimes being committed by Israel in its war with Hamas. The Hague Court of Appeals [has now] ordered the government to cease exports within seven days.”

Law professors from the University of Toronto and York University recently commented on the International Court of Justice finding on January 26 that it is “plausible” that Israel has committed acts in Gaza that violate the Genocide Convention.

They stated: “Because the ICJ found a serious risk of genocide in Gaza, continuing to export arms to Israel would be illegal [under the Export and Import Permits Act where Canada’s ascension to the Arms Trade Treaty is reflected]. It would also be flagrantly inconsistent with Canada’s obligation to prevent genocide, and could expose Canada and Canadian officials to liability for participation in genocide.”

What weapons are being used in the airstrikes on Gaza?

When the media reports on Israeli Air Force (IAF) airstrikes on Gaza, the type of aircraft and bombs used is usually not specified.

But back in November 2023, Aljazeera reported that “the workhorse of the Gaza bombing campaign is the F-16” and that “almost all bombs dropped belong to the United States-designed Mk80 family, which has been in service since the Vietnam War.”

Various sources – including articles in Defense News, The Eurasian Times, the Middle East Monitor, and The Guardian – suggest the F-35I Adir (“Mighty One” in Hebrew) is being used by the IAF in Gaza. The Aviationist further notes that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says the F-35 provides “Close Air Support to troops in Gaza … with 2,000 lb GBU-31 JDAM bombs.”

Reporting on the bombing of the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, The Guardian quoted Chris Cobb-Smith, a former United Nations weapons inspector, who said: “The munition is almost certainly JDAM, either a GBU 31 (Warhead Mark 84) general purpose bomb or possibly a GBU 56 (Warhead BLU 109) bunker buster. Both about 2,000lb [900kg].”

Business Insider has also reported: “The F-15I Ra’am, also known as Thunder in Israel, plays a key role in the IDF’s air campaign in Gaza.”

And an Associated Press story carried by CP24 includes a photo captioned: “An Israeli Apache helicopter fires a missile in direction of the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Monday, Dec. 25, 2023.” The Eurasian Times has also noted the use of AH-64D Apache attack helicopters carrying Hellfire missiles presumably for attacks against Gaza.

Who makes these weapons?

The companies behind these aircraft and bombs include General Dynamics (F-16 fighter jets, Mk80 bombs), Lockheed Martin (F-35 fighter jets, Hellfire missiles) and Boeing (F-15 fighter jets, GBU 31 JDAM bombs, GBU 56 bombs, AH-64D Apache attack helicopters).

Are there Canadian components in these weapons?

Project Ploughshares has reported that at least 110 Canadian-based suppliers have been awarded contracts for the F-35 program and that a study commissioned by Lockheed Martin in 2018 says there are US$2.3-million worth of Canadian components in every F-35 jet.

And Boeing has previously noted that “Canadian partners provide aerospace parts for all Boeing commercial airplane models and nearly all defence programs, including the AH-64 Apache … and F-15 fighter aircraft.”

How are CADSI and CANSEC linked?

General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Boeing are all members of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) lobby group and all are exhibitors at the CANSEC arms show held annually in Ottawa (the next one will be May 29-30).

What’s next?

Yesterday, Euro-Med Monitor reported in the fifteen days since the International Court of Justice ruling that the Israeli military has killed over 1,864 Palestinians—including 690 children and 441 women—and injured over 2,933 more.

Canada does not appear willing to take any action following the ruling.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly commented on the day of the ICJ ruling: “Our support for the ICJ does not mean that we accept the premise of the case brought by South Africa. It is for the ICJ to make a final decision on the case, which it has not done today. We continue to follow the case very closely. Canada will continue to support Israel’s right to exist and defend itself, in accordance with international law.”

A next key moment may be the International Court of Justice public hearings on “the request for an advisory opinion in respect of the Legal Consequences arising from the Policies and Practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” that will take place from Monday February 19 to Monday February 26 in The Hague.

Fifty-two countries have indicated they will participate in these proceedings. Canada is scheduled to speak on Tuesday February 20 from 4.40 p.m.-5.10 p.m. CET.

PBI-Canada will be present at today’s protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa.

Further reading: The Companies Profiting from Israel’s 2023-2024 Attacks on Gaza (AFSC Action Center on Corporate Accountability), Trudeau Government Authorized $28.5 Million Of New Military Exports To Israel Since October (Alex Cosh, The Maple, February 10, 2024) and  Fanning the Flames: The grave risk of Canada’s arms exports to Israel (Kelsey Gallagher, Project Ploughshares, January 18, 2024).

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