Arms Embargo on Israel Now!: Canadians Ramp Up Pressure on Trudeau and Joly

As the UN is calling for an immediate arms embargo and reminding Canadian officials involved in arms exports that they may be “individually criminally liable for aiding and abetting any war crimes,” people across the country are taking action to stop Canadian-made arms from being used by Israel to commit genocide in Gaza.

Community members began blocking access to major weapons company facilities in Kitchener-Waterloo and Victoria at dawn this morning, following blockades in Toronto, Peterborough, Calgary, Québec City and Vancouver earlier this week.

“The weapons systems and components made at the facilities and by the companies that are being disrupted this week are being used by the Israeli military to massacre Palestinians, including members of my own family,” said Rawan Habib with Palestinian Youth Movement. “So long as Israel continues to commit genocidal violence in Gaza and the Canadian government refuses to put an arms embargo in place, we will continue to mobilize in the thousands across the country, to take matters into our own hands and block the flow of weapons to Israel.”

As Israel’s genocide in Gaza continues for a fifth month, Trudeau’s government has been facing escalating scrutiny and public pressure. Over 82,000 Canadians signed a parliamentary petition demanding an embargo on military exports to Israel, and 75 civil society groups called on Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly to resign if she won’t impose an arms embargo.

Canadian communities are demanding that our government end its complicity with Israeli genocide and stop all military exports. All of the companies that have been targeted by actions this week are producing weapons and arms components that are being used by Israel to attack Gaza’s civilian population and infrastructure.

Early this morning, activists blocked the road to a Colt Canada facility in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, the country’s only significant machine gun factory. Colt produced the M16, the standard-issue assault rifle used by the Israeli military from the 1990s to the early 2010s. In November 2023, Israel ordered about 18,000 M4 and MK18 assault rifles from Colt for civilian “security squads” in dozens of cities and towns, including illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“It’s been over a month since the International Court of Justice ruled that Israel is plausibly committing genocide in Gaza. Canada and other governments are on notice: by continuing to arm Israel, you are failing to meet your legal obligations to prevent genocide, and you can be judged as being complicit, not only by Palestinians and their allies around the world, but at the Hague,” said Shatha Mahmoud, an organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement in Kitchener-Waterloo.

In Victoria, British Columbia, workers and organizers have linked arms and locked bikes together to block entrances to the Lockheed Martin facility, shutting down the morning shift at the world’s largest military company. Lockheed Martin manufactures F16 and F35 fighter jets, and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles for Israel’s Apache helicopters, the primary weapons systems being used in aerial attacks on Gaza over the past four months.

“As a Palestinian, I am appalled by companies like Lockheed Martin profiting off the genocide and mass displacement of my people,” said Han Elkhatib, a member of Palestinian Youth Movement in Victoria. “The Canadian government has a legal responsibility under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to ensure its weapons exports are not used in the commission of war crimes. But Canada has been accelerating arms exports to Israel amidst this genocide. The Trudeau government needs to make their calls for a ceasefire real by implementing an immediate arms embargo on Israel.”

This week has seen an unprecedented number of actions at weapons manufacturers as public support for an arms embargo continues to grow across the country. On Monday, hundreds of people set up picket lines at TTM Technologies in Scarborough, Ontario, blocking all vehicle access and facility doors for four hours, preventing the morning shift from entering. Dozens more picketed a Safran Electronics facility in Peterborough, Ontario. TTM Technologies’ Scarborough factory produces circuit boards for one of Israel’s largest military companies, Elbit Systems, while Safran Electronics has an agreement with the Israeli government to support the development of its Arrow 3 anti-missile system and surveillance at border walls. A Raytheon facility – the second largest arms company in the world – was also disrupted early Monday morning in Calgary, Alberta.

On Tuesday, workers in Québec City disrupted a Thales facility, which has provided components for Israel’s air force, navy, and ground forces for decades. Protestors also blockaded access to a Hikvision promotional event in Vancouver, British Columbia. Hikvision sells surveillance cameras to the Israeli military, including cameras that are used in illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

“Government officials are misrepresenting the nature of Canada’s military exports to Israel and are now claiming that the permits issued are for supposedly ‘non-lethal’ equipment. That is an invented and deliberately misleading category. It’s meaningless,” said Rachel Small with World Beyond War. “The companies being targeted this week send technological components to Israel that are integral elements of warplanes, missile systems, and other very lethal tools that Israel has used to kill over 30,000 Palestinians since October. Our government cannot hide this truth anymore. It must stop the export of all weapons – and parts thereof – that are being used to commit genocide.”

These coordinated actions to stop arming genocide were planned by several local groups, and have been endorsed by national organizations including World Beyond War, Labour for Palestine, and the Palestinian Youth Movement.

A map and additional information on weapons companies across Canada arming Israel is available here. •