Palestinians gathered outside the Canadian representative office in the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank last week, expressing support for student protests being held at North American universities and calling on the Canadian government to impose a full arms embargo on Israel.

Rawan, a Palestinian-American who has lived in Ramallah since 2019, told The Maple that the April 30 protest included youth and student activists, community organizers, and “everyone we could convince to show out.”

“We decided to join this protest [...] because of the Canadian government’s political, material and diplomatic support of Israel, and its complicity in this genocide in Gaza through the continued allowance of military goods being sold to Israel,” Rawan explained.

She said the Canadian office was chosen because the United States, Israel’s leading international patron, does not have an embassy in the area, and Canada is widely regarded among Palestinians as being a “lackey” of the U.S.

Demonstrators carried signs that praised American and Canadian student protests, which have faced police crackdowns and violence by Zionist attackers in recent weeks. One sign read, in Arabic: “The student struggle leads the masses.”

Another sign held by a protester read: “KKKanada, where’s that arms embargo?” 

Screenshot of protest video.

In March, members of the Canadian Parliament, including those belonging to the Liberal government, passed a non-binding motion that called on the federal government to, among other demands, “cease the further authorization and transfer of arms exports to Israel.”

However, as reported by The Maple, the Liberal government said it would only delay the approval of future permits for military exports to Israel, and would not revoke those that had been authorized before January 8.

In the first two months of Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, the Trudeau government authorized $28.5 million worth of military exports to Israel, government data obtained by The Maple in February revealed. The Trudeau government has repeatedly claimed that all Canadian military exports to Israel are “non-lethal,” a legally meaningless term that does not exclude components of deadly weapons.

“It is important for Canada to impose a real arms embargo on Israel because a non-binding motion to end all arms sales to Israel that only delays the authorization of new exports while allowing $28.5 million worth between October and December to go ahead as normal is wholly insufficient to address the bloody horror of what Israel is doing with these weapons,” said Rawan.

Israel’s massive attack on Gaza has so far killed at least 34,622 Palestinians since October, inflicted a humanitarian catastrophe on the besieged enclave and displaced 85 per cent of the population. Many of those who have been displaced are sheltering in the southern city of Rafah, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly insisted will soon be invaded by Israeli occupation forces.

The occupied West Bank is also witnessing an upsurge in attacks by Israeli settlers with support from Israeli troops against Palestinian civilians, with at least 466 Palestinians killed since last October when Israel began its attack on Gaza.

Israeli Settler Attacks Are Increasing. Canada Won’t Condemn The Israeli Military’s Complicity
“The settlers are extremely well-armed and are using military style equipment and firearms.”

Israel is currently on trial for genocide at the International Court of Justice, which said in January that South Africa’s case against Israel is “plausible.” Meanwhile, Israel fears that the International Criminal Court could soon issue arrest warrants for Netanyahu and other senior Israeli government officials.

Canada’s support for Israel, Rawan said, “is a moral disgrace that will open up Canada to shame and perhaps prosecution at the international level.”

She also noted that some Canadian military exports flow to Israel via the U.S. — a largely opaque market that the Canadian government does not proactively disclose information about.

According to a report published by the arms monitoring group Project Ploughshares in December, 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.

“This state of affairs is why Canada is seen by many Palestinians as a U.S. lackey and will be painted by the same bloody brush,” said Rawan.

The Trudeau government is also facing calls to cancel plans to purchase Israeli military goods, including $43 million of a type of missile that the Israeli military has used to kill aid workers and Palestinian civilians.

As reported by The Maple, the Canadian military also plans to host a “sandbox” event that will include tests of Israeli arms technology in Alberta this month, prompting calls from NDP MPs for the event to be cancelled.

Canada To Host Tests Of Israeli Arms Tech Used On Palestinians
‘Any country importing weapons from Israel is complicit in the constant and total surveillance and control over Palestinian life.’

The Canadian office in Ramallah — officially called the “Representative Office of Canada to the Palestinian Authority,” so-called because the Canadian government refuses to recognize the State of Palestine — did not respond to The Maple’s request for comment about the protest.

Support For Students

In Canada, student protests held in solidarity with Palestine have taken place at the University of British Columbia, McGill, the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto.

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“A fence is not going to stop us not wanting to contribute to genocide.”

“We wanted to send our thanks to the student movements in Canada demanding divestments and academic boycotts, a move that is more urgent than ever in the context of scholasticide in the Gaza Strip,” Rawan explained, referring to Israel’s mass destruction of universities and other academic institutions in Gaza.

Student protesters are calling on Canadian universities to divest from companies that supply arms and other goods to the Israeli military, as well as from other businesses that operate in Israel.

During the 1980s, some universities divested from companies that did business in South Africa during apartheid, a system which multiple international human rights groups have accused Israel of maintaining.

Rawan said the calls for academic boycotts of Israel are modelled on Canada’s March 2022 guidelines in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which asked research funding organizations to “refrain from entering into agreements with Russian research institutions.”

She said Israel’s genocide in Gaza has “underlined to many Palestinians how Western concern for human rights is a facade to cover its naked imperialist interests.”

Alex Cosh is the news editor of The Maple.