The Canadian military started leasing Israeli attack drones in 2017 for use in Afghanistan. It is now considering buying more. By all accounts, the Israeli drones are VERY effective. They should be, they have been “field tested” – including on Palestinian civilians. They can spy in real time, intercept telecommunications, launch unexpected missile strikes… and at all times are very useful to terrorize a population. Sounds great… Read more…
“Ottawa is on the lookout for unmanned aircraft that can conduct long-range surveillance and precision air strikes. The program is expected to cost from $1 billion to $5 billion“, reports Vice magazine.
According to reporter Justin Ling, Israel Aerospace Industries is pitching a modified version of its Heron drone, which has become a favourite of the Israeli Defence Forces, and which Canada has already leased from Israel for use in Afghanistan.
“In a briefing for industry players, a representative from the procurement arm of the Canadian government laid out Canada’s desire for its long-range, medium-altitude drone”, continued Ling.
What’s wrong with using drones?
“There are many very legitimate military uses for unarmed drones, that are uncontroversial (surveillance for military and sovereignty purposes being chief among them),” notes Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute and OFIP Advisory Council member.
In fact in, “Smart Defence” a research paper jointly produced by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Professor Michael Byers argues that drones are a better way for Canada to exercise its sovereignty in the far north, than the very expensive F35 fighter jet.
But Israeli drones?
Advocates of a general boycott of Israeli products (BDS) will no doubt be hostile, in principle, to acquiring any military equipment from Israel. For example, Canadian human rights organization CJPME has called for a general arms embargo on Israel, but the Canadian Parliament and government have already stated their strong opposition to the movement to boycott Israel (called the BDS movement), so this is not likely to restrain Canadian military planners.
“Of the many egregious aspects to partnering with Israel, one of the most important would be partnering with a country that is committing war crimes in their ongoing use of drones as an element of COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT which is contrary to the Geneva Conventions,” continues Mason. “So we would be partnering in the production of drones that our partner is using for manifestly illegal purposes“.
A lethal buzzzzzzzzing over Gaza
Meanwhile, in Gaza, Israeli drones continue to shoot, maim and terrorize a helpless population 24/7.
If you want to get an insight into what its like to live under the continual threat of Israeli drones, watch “Drones over Gaza” a 3 minute video prepared by We Are Not Numbers (WANN) a collective of Palestinian young people living in Gaza.
The constant menacing “buzz” of Israeli drones over Gaza keeps the whole population on edge, day and night. Nobody knows when they might kill or maim someone.
Could it be avoided?
The Canadian military will no doubt want to select equipment which it feels best meets its operational needs. Ethical and moral considerations will not likely figure importantly.
However, if important, ethically motivated Canadian civil society organizations, including churches, Amnesty International Canada, the Rideau Institute, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and human rights associations raise this as a political issue, enough pressure might be mounted that the Liberal government might take the “Israeli option” off the DND shopping list.
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
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