The Canadian military says it has no plans to review its decision to purchase $43 million worth of a type of Israeli-made missile despite the munition’s apparent use in killing seven aid workers, including one who was a Canadian citizen and army veteran.

BBC Verify reported this week that the Spike missile manufactured by Israeli state-owned arms dealer RAFAEL was the likely munition used by the Israeli military on April 1 when it killed seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers, who had been travelling in a convoy to deliver humanitarian aid in Gaza.

BBC cited Chris Cobb-Smith, a former British Army officer and ex-United Nations weapons inspector, as identifying the likely use of the Spike missiles, which were fired from an Israeli drone. That assessment was backed up by Justin Crump, a former British Army officer.

As well, The Times quoted Chris Lincoln-Jones, a former British Army major who previously worked with the Israeli military, saying he believed there was a “high likelihood” that Spike missiles were used, adding: “It’s the only missile that I know of in the Israeli army that, in my experience, would cause so little collateral damage.”

In February, Defense News confirmed that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) planned to buy Spike LR2 missiles for its troops stationed in Latvia as part of Canada’s NATO mission in that country.

As far as the Department of National Defence (DND) is concerned, that deal is still set to go ahead, regardless of the missiles’ apparent use on aid workers and other civilians — including one of its own veterans — in Gaza.

In an emailed statement sent to The Maple on Thursday, DND said: “At this time, there is no plans to review this purchase.” The department said it is on track to receive the first deliveries of the munition by the summer and full operating capability by 2026.

“The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the Canadian Armed Forces by providing them with the equipment and training they need to do their job,” the statement explained.

The department said it was “deeply concerned” by Israel’s attack on the aid workers, and that it “extends its condolences to the families of those impacted from this incident.”

What Happened?

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that Israel’s occupation forces killed seven aid workers with the WCK charity, which had coordinated its staff’s movements with Israeli forces in a “de-conflicted zone.”

Netanyahu called the killings “tragic,” adding that “this happens in war” and promising to launch an “inquiry.”

Among those killed was Jacob Flickinger, an American-Canadian dual citizen, along with Palestinians and citizens of Australia, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

According to The Canadian Press, Flickinger was a CAF veteran from Quebec who leaves behind a partner and one-year-old son. DND said Flickinger served in the Canadian military between 2008 and 2019.

Video footage of the aftermath of the incident showed that the Israeli missile landed directly in the middle of a large WCK logo emblazoned on the rooftop of a vehicle that was part of the aid convoy.

Another report from Israeli media indicated that the Israeli military drone that carried out the attack fired at least three missiles at the aid convoy. The Times of Israel reported that Israeli forces claimed they believed a single “armed terrorist” may have been on board one of the vehicles.

The drone reportedly fired upon wounded survivors who attempted to escape the scene. It was the third missile strike that ultimately claimed their lives.

Spike missiles are explicitly marketed by RAFAEL for their precision and lethality. In its brochure for the munition, the Israeli company boasts that the weapon is capable of breaching “up to 20 cm of reinforced concrete,” and can cause “immense and lethal damage to structural targets, vehicles and marine vessels.”

Screenshot of Rafael brochure.

WCK’s effort to provide relief work in Gaza came as 70 per cent of Palestinians in the besieged enclave are currently facing “catastrophic” starvation amid Israel’s brutal assault that to date has killed at least 33,494 people.

The charity announced Tuesday it was suspending its operations in Gaza following Israel’s attack on its staff, who are among hundreds of other aid workers that Israel has killed since it began its attack on Gaza last October.

In a statement, CEO Erin Gore, whose charity previously served hot meals to Israeli troops, said: “This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable.”

Critics viewed WCK as having been potentially positioned to replace UNRWA, the main Palestinian aid organization in Gaza whose staff Israel accused, without evidence, of participating in the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7, 2023.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly tweeted Tuesday that she expected a “full investigation” and “full accountability” into the killings of WCK workers, but offered no specifics or actions to be taken by the Canadian government against Israel.

Joly had previously announced that her ministry would pause approvals of new permits for exports of military goods to Israel, but would not revoke existing permits authorized before January 8, including $28.5 million worth of permits authorized in the first two months of Israel’s attack.

Trudeau Government Authorized $28.5 Million Of New Military Exports To Israel Since October
“It’s almost as if Canada is accelerating its arms export authorization process amid a genocidal campaign.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted Wednesday: “My thoughts are with the family of Jacob Flickinger, a Canadian citizen who was among those killed in an Israeli airstrike on an aid vehicle. Killed while delivering food to civilians in need, his death is absolutely unacceptable.”

“The world – and his loved ones – deserves an explanation as to how this happened.”

The incident is not the first time that Israel has killed an active or former CAF member.

In 2006, Israel killed Canadian Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener and three other UN observers in a targeted attack in Lebanon. DND then tried to cover up the killing in order to avoid embarrassing Israel.

The Spike munition, meanwhile, has been flagged for more than a decade by human rights groups over its well-documented use on Palestinian civilians in Israel’s current and previous attacks on Gaza.

Canadian Military Buying $43 Million Of Israeli Missiles Used In Gaza Attacks
‘This is a direct endorsement and a direct financial support to the Israeli military’s devastation and carnage in Gaza.’

As previously reported by The Maple before Israel’s killing of the seven WCK aid workers, Canadian human rights activists warned that CAF’s plan to purchase Spike missiles would directly help fund Israel’s war industry, which in turn equips the Israeli military in its attacks on civilians in Gaza.

The advocacy group Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) also pointed out this week that Israeli news outlet Ha’aretz had noted the missiles were fired at the WCK workers from an Israeli Hermes 450 aerial drone, which is manufactured by arms dealer Elbit Systems.

In 2020, Canada announced a $36 million contract to procure the Hermes for surveillance patrols in the Arctic. Despite Canada’s stated plan to use a “civilian” version of the Hermes, Israel has used a military version of the same drone in past attacks on Gaza, including to launch Spike missiles.

In a statement published this week, CJPME vice-president Michael Bueckert said of Israel’s attack on the WCK workers: “We cannot wait for the results of an investigation before taking action. Canada must act now to sanction Israeli leaders and prevent further indiscriminate killing.”

“The attacks on aid workers, alongside the starvation policies in Gaza, must be recognized as evidence of Israel’s genocidal intent,” he added.

In a separate statement, Bueckert said: “For years, we have urged Canada not to purchase weapons that are battle-tested on and used against Palestinian civilians. The targeted killing of a Canadian aid worker with this same technology must be a final wake-up call for the Prime Minister.”

Alex Cosh is the news editor of The Maple.