Pro-Palestinian group sues Canada over military exports to Israel

Pro-Palestinian group sues Canada over military exports to Israel
The Canadian government is facing a lawsuit from rights groups over continued military exports to Israel amid the ruthless war on Gaza.
3 min read
Israel's war on Gaza has prompted regular pro-Palestinian protests in major Canadian cities [Getty]

Pro-Palestinian and human rights advocates in Canada on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the federal government to stop it from allowing companies to export military goods and technology to Israel.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court, argues that Canadian laws prevent military exports to Israel because there is "substantial risk" they could be used to violate international law and commit serious acts of violence against women and children, according to a statement from the applicants.

Israel launched a ruthless and unprecedented air and ground assault on the Gaza strip nearly five months ago in response to a Hamas attack on October 7 that killed around 1,200 people. Hamas says the attack came in response to decades of Israeli aggression and occupation.

More than 30,600 people, mostly women and children, have been killed by Israel's bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, where people are also dying of famine.

Since then Ottawa has authourised at least C$28.5 million ($21.0 million) worth of new permits for military exports to Israel, more than the value of such permits allowed in the previous year, the applicants said.

The applicants include the Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights group, the Palestinian organisation Al-Haq and four individuals.

"Our policy on export permits has not changed. Canada has one of the strongest export controls systems in the world, and respect for human rights is enshrined in our export controls legislation," a spokesperson for the Global Affairs Canada department said in a written statement.

"In recent years, the government has not received, and therefore not approved, any export permits for weapons to Israel. The permits issued since October 7th, and in fact all permits that are currently open, are for non-lethal equipment," the spokesperson said.

NATO allies the United States and the Netherlands also face lawsuits over the Gaza war. Last month, a Dutch court ordered the government to block all exports of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel over concerns they were being used to violate international law.

Israel's military offensive has prompted regular pro-Palestinian protests in major Canadian cities. Last week, demonstrators gathered at gun maker Colt Canada's facility in Kitchener, Ontario.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has consistently said Israel has the right to defend itself after the Hamas attack in October. Senior officials though have called for an immediate and sustained ceasefire in the conflict.