Canada halting arms shipments to Israel: Official

Canada halting arms shipments to Israel: Official

MONTREAL (AFP) : Canada will halt all arms shipments to Israel, a government official told AFP on Tuesday, a decision that has drawn the ire of Israel as it faces growing international scrutiny over its war in the Gaza Strip.

The besieged Palestinian territory is facing a mounting humanitarian crisis, and months of war have pushed hundreds of thousands of Gazans to the brink of famine.

Canada, a key ally of the United States, which provides Israel with billions of dollars a year in military aid, had already reduced its weapons shipments to Israel to non-lethal equipment such as radios following the October 7 Hamas attack.

“The situation on the ground makes it so that we can’t” export any kind of military equipment, the Canadian official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Canada’s foreign minister Melanie Joly told the Toronto Star newspaper on Tuesday that Ottawa would stop future arms exports to Israel.

Israel slammed the decision, with foreign minister Israel Katz saying it “undermines Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas terrorists.”

“History will judge Canada’s current action harshly,” he said in a post on social media platform X.

US Senator Bernie Sanders welcomed the move, saying in a post on X: “Given the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, including widespread and growing starvation, the US should not provide another nickel for Netanyahu’s war machine.”

Israel has historically been a top receiver of Canadian arms exports, with CAN$21 million worth of military materiel exported to Israel in 2022, according to Radio Canada, following CAN$26 million in shipments in 2021.

That places Israel among the top 10 recipients of Canadian arms exports.

Ottawa has only exported “non-lethal” shipments such as communications equipment to Israel since the deadly October 7 attacks by Hamas against Israel triggered a war in the Gaza Strip.

No exports had been sent since January, the government official added.

The bloodiest-ever Gaza war broke out after an unprecedented attack by Hamas on October 7 resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Militants also seized about 250 hostages, of whom Israel believes 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 who are presumed dead.

Israel has responded with a relentless offensive against Hamas that has killed at least 31,819 people, most of them women and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

While affirming Israel’s right to defend itself, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken an increasingly critical stance toward Israel as civilian deaths have mounted in Gaza.

On Monday, the Canadian Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution calling for the international community to work toward a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

The issue of arms deliveries to Israel has triggered legal proceedings in several countries around the world.

In Canada, a coalition of lawyers and citizens of Palestinian origin filed a complaint against the government in early March to suspend arms exports to Israel, accusing it of violating both international and domestic law.