Canada calls for an immediate ceasefire, warns against offensive in Rafah, but exports “military goods” to Israel

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: In response to the Israeli military bombing of Rafah, an emergency rally was held outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa on February 12.

On February 14, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated: “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire is urgently needed”, “a military operation into Rafah would be catastrophic”, “the International Court of Justice has been clear: Israel must ensure the delivery of basic services and essential humanitarian assistance and must protect civilians” and that “a negotiated political solution is needed to achieve lasting peace and security”.

On December 12, 2023, Canada also voted in favour of a non-binding United Nations General Assembly resolution that called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”.

Peace Brigades International supports the call for an immediate ceasefire.

The December 12, 2023, vote and February 14, 2024, statement by Canada represent a change in position from October 27, 2023, when it abstained on an emergency resolution at the UN General Assembly calling for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities” in Gaza.

This may somewhat reflect a shift in public opinion.

In November 2023, an Angus Reid poll showed that 30 per cent of Canadians believed “a full ceasefire should be called immediately”. By February 2024, 49 per cent of Canadians supported the call for an immediate, full ceasefire. Only 18 per cent of Canadians now believe “a ceasefire should not be called at this time”.

Canadian military exports to Israel

While Canada has called for a ceasefire, the concern remains that it has increased its export of military goods to Israel since October 2023.

The Maple has reported: “The Trudeau government authorized at least $28.5 million of new permits for military exports to Israel during the first two months of the state’s brutal war on Gaza, data supplied to The Maple by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) shows.”

That article by Alex Cosh adds: “The total value of the new permits authorized over a two-month period exceeds the 30-year annual record high of $26 million in Canadian military exports to Israel in 2021.”

Furthermore: “The permits appear to have been authorized quickly, with one processed within four days of the application being submitted. In its 2022 report on military exports, GAC said that its target processing time was 10 days for ‘low-risk’ destinations, and 40 days for other destinations. Israel was not listed as a ‘low-risk’ destination in GAC’s most recent military exports report.”

International obligations

Following the International Court of Justice ruling on January 26, legal scholars at the University of Toronto and York University commented: “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.”

A week prior to the ICJ ruling, Project Ploughshares highlighted: “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.”

Assault on Rafah appears imminent

At this hour, The Jerusalem Post reports: “In the ground incursion, the last remaining large area is Rafah, where IDF sources say that a raid is an inevitable reality. ‘It will happen, and all that remains to be decided is the method and force.’”

Aljazeera also now reports: “The United States is preparing to send more bombs and other weapons to Israel even as it pushes for a ceasefire in the war on Gaza and has said it opposes Tel Aviv’s plans for a ground invasion in southern Rafah where more than half the enclave’s displaced population is trapped.”

That article adds: “According to the WSJ, the US has provided roughly 21,000 precision-guided munitions to Israel since the start of the war last October.”

Canada exports about $1 billion in “military goods” to the United States each year.

Because there is not a transparent and full accounting of this transfer of goods, it’s not possible to say if Canadian components are in the bombs and weapons the United States is preparing to send to Israel with the imminent attack on Rafah.

The call to Stop CANSEC

We do know, however, that the makers of the MK-82 500-pound bombs and KMU-572 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) that turn unguided munitions into precision-guided bombs that could be sent to Israel are General Dynamics and Boeing.

General Dynamics and Boeing are members of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) and plan to market their products at the upcoming CADSI-organized CANSEC arms show this May 29-30 in Ottawa.

Photo: A protest at the CADSI office on February 13 called for an end to weapons shipments to Israel and committed to organize to stop the CANSEC arms show.

We continue to follow this situation.


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