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Ottawa says it is sending non-lethal military equipment to ; Israel | Middle East, the eternal conflict

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Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly

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Canada has authorized the export of “non-lethal” military equipment to Israel since the start of its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada told Radio-Canada, without specifying the type of goods in question.

Licenses granted since October 7, 2023 concern the export of non-lethal equipment, writes Jean-Pierre Godbout in an email.

The spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada does not provide further details on the nature of this equipment, but in a report, the Department of National Defense defines the 'non-lethal weapon expression as follows:

Weapon explicitly designed and primarily used to neutralize or repel people or to neutralize equipment, while minimizing fatal accidents, permanent injuries and damage to property and the environment.

In February 2022, Global Affairs Canada used the term non-lethal to designate certain equipment provided to Ukraine to assist in its defense against the Russian invasion.

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The non-lethal equipment offered by Ottawa to Kiev included personal protective equipment, such as bulletproof vests, as well as load-carrying tools, as well as surveillance and detection equipment. This equipment also included binoculars, laser rangefinders, metal detectors and spotting scopes.

According to the latest data on Canada's military exports published in 2022, Ottawa transferred to Israel electronic equipment designed specifically for military use (10,465,925 .01), as well as aircraft and aviation equipment ($4,966,293.58), but also bombs, torpedoes, rockets, missiles and other explosive devices ($3,174 $297.90).

In total, Canada exported more than $21 million in military equipment to Israel in 2022. This amount was $26 million in 2021, placing Israel among the top 10 destinations for Canadian arms exports.

Excluding the United States, Israel received the most export licenses from Canada for military goods and technology in 2022. In total, it received 315 export licenses in 2022, followed by of the United Kingdom (290) and Germany (188).

In his email, Mr. Godbout, the spokesperson for 'Global Affairs Canada, specifies that for more than 30 years, Ottawa has received no request, and therefore issued no license, for complete weapons systems, for major conventional weapons or small arms to Israel.

Radio-Canada attempted to contact the Israeli defense attaché at the Israeli embassy in Ottawa, Colonel Ilan Or, for comment, but without success.

For her part, Kelsey Gallagher, a researcher at Project Plowshares, a Canadian non-governmental organization that focuses on disarmament issues, calls on Global Affairs Canada to clarify the type of non-lethal equipment provided to Israel.

According to him, the expression non-lethal is vague and ambiguous. It is not clear exactly what military equipment means, he said, although he said it could refer, for example, to military parts or components that could be part of a more complete weapons system.

These could be, for example, surveillance pieces which, as equipment, will not cause deaths. But this same equipment [could be] integrated into another more lethal military system, explains the researcher.

Project Plowshares recently published a report revealing that Some Canadian-made equipment, including that found in F-35 fighter jets, is shipped to the United States before being transferred to Israel.

The issue of the sale of Canadian arms to Israel has returned to the forefront of the news after the appeal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Israel to prevent any possible act of genocide in the Gaza Strip, where concern is growing over the fate of civilians.

The war was sparked on October 7 by an unprecedented Hamas attack on Israeli soil, which left around 1,140 people dead, mostly civilians, according to official Israeli figures.

Some 250 people were kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip, around 100 of whom were released at the end of November under a truce in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. According to Israeli authorities, 132 hostages remain held in Gaza, 28 of whom are presumed dead.

In response, Israel vowed to annihilate Hamas and launched a vast military operation which left 26,751 dead, the vast majority civilians, according to the Palestinian movement's Ministry of Health.

In the territory devastated and besieged by Israel, in the grip of a major humanitarian crisis, the bombings have pushed 1.7 million Palestinians, according to the UN, out of a total of 2.4 million inhabitants flee their homes.

In accordance with its own law – the Export and Import Licensing Act (EILA) – and the International Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which Canada joined in 2019, Ottawa cannot issue export licenses for arms, munitions, equipment or war armaments to a given country if there is a serious risk that these weapons will be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international law.

South Africa had taken the matter to the ICJ, arguing that Israel, in its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, violated the Convention of United Nations on Genocide. An accusation considered scandalous and unfounded by Israel.

Without ruling on the question of whether Israel is committing genocide or not, the highest court of the UN calls on the Jewish state to do everything to prevent the commission of any acts falling within the scope of application. of the Convention.

The Liberal government remained very vague regarding its position towards the ICJ decision, claiming to support the International Court, the highest UN legal body, while affirming not to accept the premises of the case brought by South Africa.

In his email to Radio-Canada, the Global Affairs spokesperson assures that all license requests for controlled items are examined on a case-by-case basis as part of Canada's risk assessment.

Goods subject to export control include a wide variety of goods and technologies designed for civil and military purposes, e.g. telecommunications equipment, decontamination equipment, cryptographic equipment, protective equipment, simulators , imaging equipment, electronic components, firearms and ammunition, he adds.

Mr. Godbout says Ottawa does not issue export licenses for military goods if there is a significant risk that they will be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international human rights law. the person, to undermine peace and security, to facilitate international organized crime or terrorism, to commit a serious violation of international humanitarian law or to commit serious acts of violence against women and of children.

No changes have been made to this long-standing policy, he assured. p>

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