Canada’s arms exports to Israel at the third-highest level on record, amid heightened violence

Montreal, June 12, 2023Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is extremely concerned to learn that Canada sent more than $20 million in military exports to Israel last year, despite Israel’s 3-day bombing of the occupied Gaza Strip and heightened Israeli violence in the occupied West Bank. According to Canada’s newly released annual report on military exports, Canada exported $21,329,783.93 in military goods to Israel in 2022. Even when adjusted for inflation, this makes 2022 the third-highest year for Canadian military exports to Israel on record, after 2021 ($27,861,257) and 1987 ($28,716,528).* CJPME reiterates its call for Canada to immediately suspend all military trade with Israel.

“Canada continues to export weapons to Israel with total disregard to the very real risk that they will be used to kill, maim, or oppress Palestinians in the occupied territories,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME. During the period covered by the most recent export data, Israel launched a 3-day bombardment of Gaza which killed 49 Palestinians, including 17 children. During the assault, Israel’s attacks appear to have deliberately targeted civilians and may therefore amount to war crimes. In the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Israeli forces killed 146 Palestinians in 2022, the largest number since 2004. In the same year, Israeli forces deliberately killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and Amnesty International published a report concluding that Israel was committing the crime of apartheid, joining a consensus within the human rights sector. “Canada must take action now to ensure that Canadian exports are not involved, directly or indirectly, in war crimes or crimes against humanity,” Bueckert added.

Canada’s annual report shows that Israel was the top non-US destination in terms of the number of utilized export permits for military goods and technology, with 315 permits utilized in 2022. Almost half of the value of its military exports appears to be related to Israel’s space program ($10,465,925), while a significant portion continues to be related to military aircraft ($4,966,293) or categorized as explosives or related components ($3,174,297). This raises the possibility that Canadian weapons, components, or related technology may have been incorporated into Israel’s airstrikes against civilian infrastructure in Gaza, among other uses.

CJPME has previously raised concerns about the human rights risk posed by Canada’s military exports to Israel, as outlined in last year’s report, titled Arming Apartheid: Canada’s Arms Exports to Israel. The report reveals how Israel’s occupation, violence against civilians, and apartheid policies, present a situation of extreme risk in which Canada’s arms exports could be implicated in violations of human rights and international law. The report recommended that Canadian officials take immediate and proactive measures to eliminate the risks associated with its arms exports to Israel, by: 1) suspending all military trade with Israel; and 2) launching a parliamentary study to determine whether past and current Canadian arms exports have been used against civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) or in airstrikes on Gaza.

*Values represented in constant Canadian dollars, adjusted for inflation.