Could Canadian-made Colt M4 and MK18 assault rifles be exported for Israeli “civilian security squads”?

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: Protest at Colt Canada Corporation plant in Kitchener, Ontario; February 28, 2024. Photo by World Beyond War Canada.

On March 18, the House of Commons passed a motion that included an amendment from a Liberal Member of Parliament so that it would read Canada will “cease the further authorization and transfer of arms exports to Israel to ensure compliance with Canada’s arms export regime and increase efforts to stop the illegal trade of arms, including to Hamas.”

The CBC now reports: “One arms contract that may yet cause problems for Canada is an Israeli order for 24,000 Armalite-style assault rifles that already has been the subject of a hold order from the U.S. government.”

The CBC article continues: “Three-quarters of those rifles are to be supplied by Colt. Colt’s subsidiary Colt Canada (formerly Diemaco) manufactures small arms for the Canadian Forces [and the RCMP, including the controversial C-IRG unit] and was expected to supply some of the Israeli contract.”

**UPDATE: CBC reporter Evan Dyer subsequently tweeted this thread of updates on this.**

As such, it could be the case that the weapons or components could be exported to Israel via the United States.

Image by World Beyond War Canada.

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Action Center for Corporate Accountability has noted: “Israel requested to purchase from Colt about 18,000 M4 and MK18 assault rifles, out of 24,000 total assault rifles from U.S. companies. Israel designates these firearms for newly-formed civilian ‘security squads’ in dozens of cities and towns, including illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. U.S. State Department officials, who have to approve the sale of automatic rifles, expressed concerns that these weapons will be used to expel Palestinian civilians from their land in the occupied West Bank.”

Video: Since October 2023, “some 800 new civilian defense squads have been set up throughout Israel.”


In October 2023, Israel requested 24,000 rifles for civil security squads under the auspices of the Israel Police.

On November 5, 2023, The New York Times reported: “The three proposed tranches of semi-automatic and automatic rifles are valued at $34 million and are being ordered directly from U.S. gunmakers, but they require State Department approval and congressional notification. Israel says the rifles would be used by the national police force, but has also indicated that they could be given to civilians, people familiar with the weapons orders told The New York Times.”

On November 6, 2023, the Wall Street Journal reported: “The Biden administration has approved the transfer of some 24,000 rifles to the Israeli national police.”

On November 9, 2023, Colt declined to comment to Fox News about a protest outside their Connecticut plant about the sale of these rifles.

On December 13, 2023, Axios reported: “Several weeks after the deal was approved, the U.S. State Department decided to slow-walk the process and put the licenses under a new review, the U.S. officials said.”

On January 3, 2024, the AFSC called on the Office of the Secretary of Commerce to
“suspend all licenses and shipments of firearm exports to Israel”.

On March 20, 2024, following the passage of a motion in the House of Commons that references arms exports, CTV reported: “Export permits that were approved before Jan. 8 remain in effect, the office of Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said in an emailed statement.”

Beyond this, the current status of the order for these assault rifles is not clear.

Colt at CANSEC, May 29-30

The AFSC has highlighted: “Colt’s Manufacturing Company makes firearms, including the M16, which was the standard-issue assault rifle used by the Israeli military from the 1990s to the early 2010s. Many older M16 rifles are still in use by the Israeli military and police.”

Photo: IDF soldiers in Jabalia, Gaza Strip.

We Are the Mighty has also noted: “The IDF maintains a large quantity of M4s and M16s that have been converted to carbines. As a result, the IDF continues to field both the Tavor and AR as its standard-issue rifles.”

Colt Canada Corporation is listed as an exhibitor (in Booth 1429) at the upcoming CANSEC arms show, this May 29-30 at the EY Centre in Ottawa.

We continue to follow this.

For more: Save the date, World Beyond War Canada webpage for protests planned against CANSEC 2024.

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