Canadian companies exported a record-breaking total of $30.6 million in military goods to Israel last year, according to an annual report published by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) last week.

The annual report tracks exports of military goods to foreign countries excluding the United States. Below are some of the key takeaways from the report regarding exports to Israel.

Canada’s exports of military goods to Israel in 2023 were the highest on record, surpassing the previous record of $28.7 million in 1987 (adjusted for inflation) by 6.6 per cent.

Over the past 10 years alone, annual Canadian exports of military goods to Israel have increased more than sixfold from $4.8 million in 2013.

The government included a footnote in the 2023 report that stated its often repeated claim that only permits for “non-lethal” goods were authorized after Oct. 7, 2023, when Israel launched its brutal assault on Gaza.

As noted in The Maple’s past reporting, “non-lethal” carries no legal meaning, and could refer to components of deadly military hardware.

The report stated that “no permits have been issued since January 8, 2024,” but did not say anything about issuing a formal notice to pause authorizations of new permits, as the government promised it would do following the passage of a non-binding vote in Parliament earlier this year.

The apparent pause on authorizing new permits does not apply to those authorized before January 8, meaning that military goods are likely still flowing from Canada to Israel under existing permits.

Back in February, The Maple reported that the Trudeau government had authorized new permits for military exports valued at $28.5 million during the first two months of Israel’s attack on Gaza.

As The Maple noted at the time, not all of the goods covered under those export permits may have actually been shipped to Israel in 2023, and some of the authorized permits are likely still active.

Israel was the non-U.S. destination with the highest number of military export permits utilized by Canadian suppliers in 2023. This does not mean, however, that Israel purchased the highest dollar amount of Canadian military goods last year.

GAC discloses only very broad strokes about the nature of the military goods being sold abroad. Below is a breakdown of the export categories of goods that were exported to Israel last year.

None of the military export permits that GAC denied last year were for exports of goods to Israel. Below is a table of the permit denials, and the reasons given for doing so.

As the report noted, Canada’s foreign affairs minister must “deny exports and brokering permit applications for military goods and technology if there is a substantial risk that the items would undermine peace and security, or could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws, acts constituting an offence under international conventions relating to terrorism or organized crime, serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children.”

Israel has been widely accused of waging a genocidal campaign in Gaza, and is currently on trial for violating the 1948 Genocide Convention at the International Court of Justice.

Earlier this year, United Nations experts warned that all states must stop arms exports to Israel, “including export licenses and military aid,” since any such transfers are “likely to violate international humanitarian law.”

The UN statement specifically named Canada as one of several countries that continue to export military goods to Israel.

According to Canada’s 2023 military exports report, Israel remains on the Automatic Firearms Country Control List, which “allows Canadian residents to apply for permits to export prohibited firearms, weapons and devices to that destination.”

In total, Canada exported $2.14 billion in military goods to non-U.S. destinations last year, a slight increase from $2.12 billion in 2022. By far the single largest non-U.S. buyer of Canadian military goods in 2023 was Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by a highly oppressive monarchy with a dire human rights record.

Saudi Arabia bought $904.6 million of Canadian military goods, the majority of which were for “ground vehicles and components.”

Absent from GAC’s annual report are disclosures about exports of military goods to the United States, some of which may ultimately end up in the hands of the Israeli military, according to arms-monitoring groups.

In its assessment of the 2023 report, the arms-monitoring group Project Ploughshares (PP) said it conservatively estimates the total value of annual military exports to the U.S. to be more than $1 billion.

In December, PP published a report warning that some Canadian-made components, including those found in F-35 fighter jets, are first shipped to the U.S. and then ultimately supplied to the Israeli military. Israel has used F-35s in its bombing of Gaza.

Alex Cosh is the news editor of The Maple.