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Canada accused of 'arming apartheid' in new campaign to stop arms sales to Israel

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 15: People gather to stage a demonstration in support of Palestinians and to protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem on the 73rd Nakba Day at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, Canada on May 15, 2021. ( Seyit Aydoğan - Anadolu Agency )
People gather to stage a demonstration in support of Palestinians and to protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem on the 73rd Nakba Day at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, Canada on May 15, 2021 [Seyit Aydoğan - Anadolu Agency]

A campaign is underway to end Canada's arms sales to Israel. Headed by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), the campaign also seeks to push Ottawa to investigate whether Canadian-made weapons have been used against Palestinian civilians.

A report entitled "Arming Apartheid Canada's arms export to Israel" found that the sale of military goods to Israel have been accelerating in recent years, and in 2020 reached their highest level in over three decades.

In 2020, Canada exported a total of $19.5 million in military goods to Israel. This was Canada's highest value year for arms exports to Israel since 1987. Altogether, the value of Canada's total reported military exports to Israel from 1978 to 2020 amount to $228,827,781.

The report found that the volume of arms sale dropped dramatically in 1987 to almost zero because of the First Palestinian Intifada (uprising). Israel's response to the intifada was strongly criticised by Canadian officials, including Secretary of State for External Affairs Joe Clark, and it is "very likely" that this was the direct reason for Canada's nearly non-existent arms exports during this period.

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The trend continued through the early 90s and it was not until 1996 that arms exports began to rise with the sharpest increase seen over the past five years. From 2016-2020 the value of arms sales increased by approximately 145 per cent to $72,026,132.

Rising arms sales coincide with the deteriorating human rights condition in Palestine. The report mentioned that there is a growing consensus that Israeli practices against the Palestinians amount to the crime against humanity of apartheid and as such any military exports to the country present a high risk of being used to violate international humanitarian and human rights law.

"There is no excuse for Canada to continue exporting arms to a country practicing apartheid and other abuses," said CJPME in the petition. The rights group highlighted the attack by Israeli soldiers on Al-Aqsa Mosque last week and called to investigate whether Canadian-made weapons have been used against Palestinian civilians.

"Canada banned military trade with Israel during the First Intifada over human rights concerns, and we can do it again. #StopArmingApartheid," said Michael Bueckert, author of the report.

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Asia & AmericasCanadaIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestine
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