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Canada to suspend all arms shipments to Israel over Gaza war

Protesters hold Palestinian flags during a rally to call for a cease-fire in Gaza, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, March 9, 2024. (Reuters Photo)

Canada has decided to halt all weapons shipments to Israel over Tel Aviv’s unrelenting war on Gaza, a government official said Tuesday. The decision drew the ire of Israel, which is facing growing international scrutiny over the war on the besieged Palestinian territory.

Gaza 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 Oct. 7 Hamas incursion.

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

Israel has historically been a top receiver of Canadian arms exports, with 21 million Canadian dollars ($15.44 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 Israel launched its war on the Gaza Strip.

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

Israel has killed nearly 32,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, in its war since Oct. 7, when a Hamas incursion caused 1,160 deaths in Israel.

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.

“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 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 …”

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

By Daily Sabah with Agencies

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