A group of more than 40 people pose outside with banners calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Amnesty International Canada joins global Day of Action to end arms transfers to Israel

Human rights and humanitarian organizations, including Amnesty International Canada, will unite on Parliament Hill on Thursday staging a powerful media stunt to call on Canada to stop sending arms to Israel. 

May 2 marks a Global Day of Action with advocates from around the world calling on political leaders to urgently end arms transfers to Israel amidst the ongoing catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Gaza. This day of action seeks to mobilize global solidarity and demand accountability from governments, like Canada, directly involved in arms trade with Israel. 

On March 18, the House of Commons adopted a motion calling on Canada to cease arms transfers to Israel in the context of the current conflict in Gaza. The motion explicitly calls on the government to cease future export authorizations as well as previously approved transfers, as both present a substantial risk of contributing to serious human rights violations. Canada must uphold its commitment under the motion and end all arms transfers to Israel.

Canadian motion on arms transfers doesn’t go far enough

The Canadian government has yet to respond to concerns that the implementation of this policy will only go so far as suspending the approval of future arms export permits to Israel, and not apply to the hundreds of previously approved weapons transfers – including nearly $30 million approved in the first two months of the conflict. There are also no indications that this announced policy will address Canada’s transfer of military end-use parts and components to Israel via the United States, including Canadian-made components incorporated into the US-produced F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which Israel has used throughout its bombing campaign in Gaza.

The organizations call for a comprehensive end to arms transfers, including canceling all existing permits already granted and blocking arms parts and components to Israel via the United States. The full cessation of weapons transfers to parties to the conflict would be a necessary step towards enabling the conditions for a ceasefire. Only a sustained ceasefire can stop the further loss of civilian life and ensure sufficient aid reaches those in need.

Over 200 days of complete siege and indiscriminate bombardment have deprived the civilian population of the basics to survive and rendered Gaza nearly uninhabitable. More than 75,000 tons of explosives were used to turn Gaza’s civilian infrastructure into rubble, destroying 70% of hospitals and causing incomprehensible damage to civilian homes. In sum, Israel has systematically eliminated all of the social determinants of health in Gaza causing over 34,409 reported fatalities, 72% of which are women and children, and more than 75,092 injuries to civilians.

VIDEO: Israeli strikes on a group of seven journalists in south Lebanon on 13 October, which killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah and injured six others, were likely a direct attack on civilians that must be investigated as a war crime, Amnesty International says.

Israel’s looming ground assault on Rafah will leave nearly a million civilians, already facing dire circumstances and limited access to essentials with nowhere else to go, pushing them, like those who remain in the north, towards the brink of famine. This catastrophe must be prevented. It’s imperative that our political leaders take immediate action.


“Since October, Canada has continuously urged parties to uphold the principles of international humanitarian law. However, even in the face of intense indiscriminate and systematic violence against civilians and humanitarian personnel, and even amid the risk of genocide, Canada has not ceased its moral, military, and material support to the Israeli offensive. Military equipment continues to be exported to Israel, and no economic or diplomatic sanctions have been applied. Third-party states in a conflict, such as Canada, have an obligation to do everything reasonably within their power to ensure that international humanitarian law is respected.”

  • Béatrice Vaugrante, Executive Director, Oxfam-Québec 

“Amnesty International, United Nations experts, and other human rights groups have been unanimous: countries, including Canada, that continue to transfer arms to Israel risk being complicit in war crimes against civilians in Gaza. Canada has clear obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty and must prevent its military equipment and technology from being used by parties who are flouting international humanitarian and human rights law. We urge Canada to immediately implement a full arms embargo against Israel and armed groups fighting in Gaza.”

  • Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canadian Section (English-Speaking) 

“Action is urgent as Israel signals that a ground invasion of Rafah is imminent, which would be detrimental for the 1.4million displaced Palestinians barely holding on to life. Canada’s obligation is clear under the Arms Trade Treaty: we cannot continue to arm Israel, when these weapons are clearly used to commit war crimes. Canada wants to see a ceasefire, and canceling all arms transfers is a necessary step for us to get there.”

  • Lauren Ravon, Executive Director, Oxfam Canada   

“Gaza is the most dangerous place on Earth for civilians, as well as for healthcare and humanitarian workers. Famine lurks, death is daily. Providing care in this context of daily violence means accepting that the physical and psychological suffering of too many people cannot be alleviated. Canada, like the international community, must cease support for this violation of international humanitarian law. Among other things, this translates into a cessation of all transfers of military equipment to Israel.”

  • Nadja Pollaert, Executive Director, Doctors of the World Canada

“To this very day Canada continues to arm Israel with transfers of weaponry permitted before January 8th, 2024. Despite decades of illegal settlements, extremist settler violence, the illegal siege and blockade of Gaza, as well as countless other war crimes, Canada has stood by and armed Israel’s occupation and apartheid system. Our export control system is broken and there is no more obvious canary in the coal mine than our continued arms transfers to Israel. We demand the government follow through on the democratic will of Parliament and impose a full and immediate arms embargo on Israel. The arms transfers must stop.”

  • Alex Paterson, Senior Director, Parliamentary Affairs – CJPME

“What we’re witnessing in Gaza is one of the deadliest and most destructive military campaigns in recent history. Among other urgently needed responses, the Canadian government should halt all direct military exports from Canada to Israel, and take steps to ensure Canadian companies aren’t supplying parts for military equipment destined for Israel. It is not enough for Canada to merely agree to non-binding motions and resolutions. What’s needed is immediate, strong and decisive action.” 

  • Georgina Alonso, spokesperson for Above Ground (a project of MakeWay)

“We have now witnessed over 200 days of continuous violence, countless deaths, legal violations and human rights abuses against Palestinians in Gaza. Over 2 million people are displaced in uninhabitable conditions, and over half a million people are facing an impending famine. Far too many lives have been taken and continue to be lost as we watch these horrors unfold in livetime and on screen. The Canadian Government has an international obligation to act with urgency to ensure that international humanitarian law is upheld. Canada must ensure and be clear that there is an immediate suspension of all arms export permits and weapons to Israel. ” 

  • Mashaal Saeed, Media and Campaigns Lead, Islamic Relief Canada

“The ongoing arms transfers from the Canadian government to Israel are not only resulting in indiscriminate violence against innocent civilians, including women and children, and causing mass displacement and severe famine, but they are also jeopardizing the humanitarian aid efforts led by Canadian charities funded by Canadian donors. These weapons have been used to target and destroy crucial humanitarian programs. The government of Canada must urgently adhere to international humanitarian law and cease the transfer of any weapons to Israel, whether approved after October 7 or before.”

  • Mahmuda Khan, Chief Executive Officer, Human Concern International

“Canadian companies produce and export vital parts of the fighter jets, warships, drones, and attack helicopters that are decimating Gaza right now. By continuing to arm the Israeli military, Canada is directly complicit in and profiting from the slaughter of over 14,000 Palestinian children. The Canadian government needs to act decisively to save Palestinian lives and that begins with cutting off the Canada-Israel arms trade. Frankly ending the flow of weapons to Israel is the bare minimum Canada should be doing right now, and failure to take even this action makes a mockery of the government’s stated commitment to ending the violence in Gaza.” 

  • Rachel Small, Canada Organizer, World BEYOND War

“Seven months in and countless protests, petitions, and letters voicing ordinary Canadians’ demand to end this genocide and yet, the Canadian government continues to shamefully allow two-way arms trade with Israel despite obvious war crimes and violations of IHL. This is a situation that should have never been allowed to happen to begin with, but we are now more than past due to end Canada’s complicity in these crimes.”

  • Ammar Yaser, President, Association of Palestinian Arab Canadians