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Saturday, August 23

Canada Has Sold Millions in Military-Grade Hardware to Israel
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Written by
Ben Makuch
Editor, Canada

The shock and awe of Israeli military technology might be happening thousands of miles from North America, in Gaza, but Canadians shouldn’t feel too left out. A government report shows some of that military hardware could very well be Canadian made.

It’s no secret the American government offers up military support to the Israelis, even in the face of their controversial war with Hamas in Gaza. But after The Intercept cast light on the wider Five Eyes involvement with the Israelis, the previously unknown Canadian support for the IDF was exposed.

And the Canadian contributions to the embattled Israeli government have gone beyond signals intelligence and into the realm of physical reinforcements.

According to the latest released Foreign Affairs department report on the lawful export of Canadian military-grade products, shipments to Israel between 2010 and 2011 amount to over $6.3 million worth of equipment. The report says gear classified under automatic rifles and their components, military training simulators, bombs, torpedoes, and unmanned aerial vehicles, were all potentially sold to the Israelis.

It’s worth noting the Canadian government didn’t provide the military technology from its own stock. But it approved the shipping of millions of dollars worth of gear from Canadian contractors. These types of sales are subject to strict arms control laws and international treaties.

The big ticket items in both years appear to be “Software” and “Technology” designated military exports, along with some naval gear. In 2010, the Israelis purchased $814,666 worth of unnamed Canadian software, with another, larger purchase, amounting to $2,626,245 in 2011.

The vaguely designated “Technology” procured from 2010 to 2011 amounted to close to $3.5 million.

And that’s not all the military gear shipped from Canada to the lone Jewish state in the Middle East.

Israel also purchased over $500,000 worth of Canadian products classified as, “Bombs, torpedoes, rockets, missiles, other explosive devices and charges, and related equipment and accessories specially designed for military use.”

But the numbers in the Foreign Affairs report only tell part of the story. Another little-known government report from Industry Canada shows ammunition sales to Israel spiking from 2010 to 2013.

Under a similar designation as the Foreign Affairs report, Canadian domestic exports of “Other ammunition,” which includes “Bombs, Grenades, Torpedoes, Mines,” went from just over $50,000 in 2010 to $1.8 million in 2013, and was among the top 25 product exports to Israel from Canada cited online by the government.

It’s possible these “bombs” and assorted explosives in both lists could be crowd-control offensive weapons like flash-bang grenades, and other non-lethal materials.

The Foreign Affairs report also suggests drones or smaller aircraft components, which have taken up an almost cultural spectre for Palestinians as buzzing eyes in the sky, might’ve been purchased from Canadian contractors.

Under the 2-10 description in the Foreign Affairs report, which includes “aircraft, lighter-than-air vehicles” and “unmanned airborne vehicles,” the Israelis purchased over $600,000 of unknown equipment.

Unfortunately the Foreign Affairs and Industry Canada reports both provide unspecific weapons classifications under vague code numbers like “2-14,” “2-9,” or “930690” with accompanying imprecise descriptions. That means knowing exactly what kind of materials were sold to Israel is a relative guessing game.

We do know that shadowy defence contractors like SNC Lavalin (known to have unsavoury international relationships), and CAE have done extensive business with the Israelis before.

I asked Foreign Affairs to clarify some of the details on the military exports to Israel, specifically what the “Software” and “Technology” shipped off were exactly.

“I can tell you that the top military exports to Israel between 2010 and 2011,” said spokesperson Adam Hodge, “included technology relating to equipment for naval vessels, various electronic equipment and components, and aircraft technology.”

When it came to names of companies Hodge wouldn’t elaborate: “For reasons of commercial confidentiality, we are not able to provide further details.”

Hodge did tell me that the Canadian federal government will continue to support Israel because “that is what friends and allies do,” with “no plans in changing our current arrangement with Israel.”

Hodge also said the, “fight against international terrorism is the great struggle of our generation. Israel is constantly on the front lines of this struggle.”

Increased Israeli purchases of Canada’s finest military products, matches overall rising Canadian military exports under the Harper government and the cozier diplomatic relationship developing between Canada and Israel.

In January, Prime Minister Harper took time out of his Israeli trade tour to become the first Canadian PM to address the Knesset. On the same trip, Harper was accompanied by a variety of private business types looking for opportunities in Israel.

The Canadians are also buying from the Israelis. Just recently, the Canadian Press reported, the Canadians were looking to outfit their executive planes carrying Harper on trips abroad, with anti-missile radar systems provided by Elbit systems (Israel’s top defence contractor).

Israeli officials were also present at CANSEC in late May, Canada’s premier defence trade show, purveying Canadian made military hardware, ostensibly, to potentially buy gear.

Ultimately, whether you agree with the Canadian military exports to Israel or not, there’s one undeniable truth: One country, or regional political organization not on the Foreign Affairs report, was the Palestinian Authority.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Stephen Harper as the first foreign leader to address the Knesset, when he was really the first Canadian PM to do so.

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