As Rafah Burns, Hundreds Confront Military and Weapons Company Representatives at CANSEC Arms Fair in Ottawa

World BEYOND War
The People's Voice

Ottawa — A large protest is blocking the entrances to CANSEC, North America’s biggest weapons and military convention. Hundreds of demonstrators are confronting representatives of Israeli and Canadian militaries and weapons companies over their complicity in the killing of more than 36,000 Palestinians in Gaza as Israel has carried out a prolonged assault from the air, sea, and on the ground over the past seven and a half months. The criminality of Israel’s actions, and of Canada’s complicity with them, is underscored by the horrific killing of 45 Palestinians by an Israeli air strike on a camp for displaced people in Rafah. At least 23 women and children died in the attack, many burned to death as fire engulfed their tents.

“Dozens of people were burned alive in Israel’s attacks on a displaced persons camp in Rafah this week, a spot Israel had designated a ‘safe’ zone. And the people profiting from this atrocity, who have been providing the weaponry for the slaughter of tens of thousands of Palestinians, are right here at CANSEC,” said Rachel Small, organizer with World BEYOND War. “Today we are making it impossible for anyone to come anywhere near this weapons fair without confronting the war crimes and devastating bloodshed these arms dealers and military representatives are complicit in.”

Many of the weapons companies currently arming the Israeli military’s assault on Gaza are exhibiting and presenting at CANSEC, including: Elbit Systems, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, L3Harris, Leonardo, and dozens more. Israeli government and military representatives had also planned to be in attendance. Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair was scheduled to give the keynote address at the Official Opening Breakfast for CANSEC starting at 7:45AM on Wednesday. Blair recently oversaw DND’s purchase of $32.2 million dollars worth of Spike LR2 missiles, which are made by Israeli state-owned weapons giant Rafael Advanced Defense System, and are being used by Israel in Gaza.

The protest was planned to condemn war profiteering in solidarity with Palestinians and people in conflict zones all around the world who have been killed, displaced, and maimed by the weapons being peddled and sold at CANSEC. The arms manufacturers exhibiting at CANSEC have raked in record profits from the military violence that has brought misery to millions this year – from Palestine to Sudan, from the Congo to Ukraine, from Afghanistan and West Papua to Ethiopia.

“We refuse to stand silent while corporations profiting from our people’s genocide are hosted year after year at CANSEC and while our government continues to maintain contracts with these corporations,” said Sarah Abdul-Karim, a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement. “As we witness the ongoing genocide in Gaza, we know that the arms trade fuels this genocide. Every time Israel targets Gaza, the stocks of Israeli arms manufacturers like Elbit systems skyrocket. They use the people of Gaza as a way to advertise their weapons. They also test new weapons on our people, then they attend CANSEC right here in Ottawa and advertise these same weapons as ‘field tested’. We demand a people’s inquiry into the arms trade immediately!”

At noon on Wednesday, a second protest will be held on Parliament Hill to condemn the Canada-Israel arms trade and demand an inquiry into the arms trade.

“We need a people’s inquiry into the arms trade to show that people living in Canada do not want their tax dollars going towards escalating war and genocide around the world,” said Adrian She, Vice Chair of ILPS in Canada.

30 Members of Parliament from the Liberal, NDP, and Green parties have now joined more than 250 labour unions, human rights and environmental organizations, faith institutions, and community groups, which together represent millions of Canadians, in calling for a full and immediate arms embargo on Israel. In parallel, the Bloc Québecois has sent a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly asking that “the Government of Canada temporarily suspend all trade in arms and military technology with Israel.”

Canadian companies produce and export crucial components for the fighter jets, warships, drones, and attack helicopters that the Israeli military is using to carry out its assault on Gaza. In March, Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly made a verbal commitment to pause approvals of future export permits of military equipment bound for Israel, after Parliament passed a non-binding motion that included a clause requiring Canada “cease further authorization and transfer of arms exports to Israel.” However, it is not publicly verifiable that the Government has taken concrete steps to honour the will of Parliament, and Global Affairs Canada has confirmed that it has continued to allow the export of military goods to Israel under permits authorized before January 8th, 2024.

Moreover, Canada continues to sign contracts to buy weapons from Israeli arms companies and to showcase and promote the military technology of prospective Israeli suppliers. Notably, this Monday, May 27th marked the opening of a four week-long “sandbox” event hosted by the Canadian Armed Forces in Alberta at which weapons companies, including two Israeli firms, will demo technology designed to “detect and/or defeat” drones for prospective purchase and integration into the Canadian military’s own systems. As The Maple has reported, at least one of those Israeli companies’ weapons systems are being used by the Israeli military in its assault on Gaza. And Smart Shooter’s AI-powered robotic weapons have been tested on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, where they are used to track and target demonstrators with tear gas or sponge-tipped bullets.

“By continuing to arm, fund, and collaborate with the Israeli military and state-owned and incubated Israeli companies that supply it, Canada has been directly complicit in and profiting from the slaughter of over 15,000 Palestinian children in Gaza, and the subjugation and domination of Palestinian life throughout the occupied territory,” said Niall Clapham Ricardo of Independent Jewish Voices Canada. “And to finally end this complicity, Canada must cut off the arms trade with Israel.”

There are several dozen companies exhibiting at CANSEC 2024 that are currently arming the Israeli military’s genocidal violence in Gaza including:

  • Elbit Systems – supplies 85% of the drones and land-based military equipment used by the Israeli military.
  • Boeing – manufactures multiple weapon systems sold to the Israeli military that are routinely used in war crimes against Palestinian civilians, including fighter jets, attack helicopters, missiles, bombs, and precision-guided bomb kits.
  • General Dynamics – supplies the Israeli military with a wide variety of weapons, including artillery ammunition and bombs for attack jets currently used in Israel’s assault on Gaza. The company’s technologies are also integrated into Israel’s main weapon systems, including fighter jets and armored combat vehicles.
  • L3Harris Technologies – their components are integrated into multiple weapon systems used by the Israeli military, including Israel’s air-to-ground bombs as well as its main warplanes, battle tanks, and warships.
  • Lockheed Martin – by far the largest weapons producer in the world, they brag about arming over 50 countries, including many of the most oppressive governments and dictatorships. They manufacture multiple weapon systems that are used to decimate Gaza right now.
  • Raytheon Technologies – The world’s second-largest military company, RTX manufactures missiles, bombs, components for fighter jets, and other weapon systems used by the Israeli military against Palestinian civilians. Also builds the missiles that will arm Canada’s new Lockheed Martin F-35 warplanes.
  • BAE Systems – provides weapon systems and components to the Israeli Air Force’s fleet of F-15, F-16, and F-35 fighter jets.
    Additional photos and video are available to download here. Follow on Instagram Live @worldbeyondwarcanada here.

Additional photos and video are available to download here. Follow on Instagram Live @worldbeyondwarcanada here.


As Rafah Burns, Hundreds Confront Military and Weapons Company Representatives at CANSEC Arms Fair in Ottawa

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk World Radio. He is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and U.S. Peace Prize Recipient.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

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