Breaking: Rail Lines in Toronto Shut Down by Hundreds Calling for Arms Embargo on Israel, End to Genocide in Palestine

By World BEYOND War, April 16, 2024

Rail lines at Osler St and Pelham Ave (near Dupont and Dundas W) in Toronto have just been blocked, shutting down critical freight services from Canada to the United States in solidarity with starving Palestinians in Gaza, and demanding that the Government of Canada stop obfuscating and do what’s right: impose an immediate and comprehensive arms embargo on Israel. The Canada-Israel arms trade relies on Canadian rail infrastructure to ship arms to air and sea ports for transfer to Israel, and to ship parts to the U.S., which are then incorporated into weapons systems like Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet, before also being exported to Israel.

“For months, as calls from our families and friends in Gaza have grown increasingly dire, we have written, phoned, and petitioned our MPs. We have held teach-ins, community meetings and town halls. We have flyered, marched, picketed, and rallied at every government office you can name. And yet still the Canadian government has refused to act decisively to save Palestinian lives and impose a full arms embargo on Israel,” said Dalia Awwad of the Palestinian Youth Movement. “So we have no choice but escalate, and stop the weapons being sent to and from Israel ourselves.”

Today’s rail shut down was carried out by hundreds of people in Toronto, and has no definite end time. It follows actions that unfolded yesterday across Canada, the United States, and around the world. These actions aimed to block the arteries of capitalism and disrupt business as usual in a global economic system that is facilitating Israel’s genocidal campaign on Gaza, despite UN Security Council resolutions and ICJ rulings.

Yesterday in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, community members shut down the entrance to the Kraken Robotics global headquarters, a company which supplies technology to Israeli arms companies Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. Dozens of peace activists blocked the road to the Halifax port where Israel’s biggest transport company Zim Integrated Shipping Services (ZIM) has an office. 21 people were ultimately arrested. In Vancouver, one of Canada’s largest ports and a shipping site for ZIM, Deltaport, was blockaded for several hours. Organizers called on portworkers to refuse to load and unload Israeli cargo, and to treat arms shipments from Israel as “hot cargo,” in the tradition of dock workers who refused to load goods from apartheid South Africa. In Ottawa, labour and community activists blocked access to Export Development Canada, which facilitates the arms trade between Israel and Canada. The Port of Montreal was shut down for over an hour and elsewhere in Montreal, a sit-in forced the closure of Scotiabank, Elbit’s largest foreign investor. Road, railway and government building blockades were also held in Victoria BC, Peterborough ON, and Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec. In Arlington, Virginia, just across the river from where U.S. lawmakers authorize U.S. tax-dollars to fund Israeli genocide, organizers shut down arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin, a major recipient of those dollars as the purveyor of F-35 fighter jets to the Israeli military. In Middletown, Connecticut, organizers blocked the entrances to a Pratt & Whitney factory, which provides engines for Lockheed’s F-35 program. In the Bay Area, residents blocked the Interstate 880 and shut down the Golden Gate Bridge, while people of conscience blocked several lanes of Interstate 190 in Chicago leading into the O’Hare International Airport.

“We are watching a genocide be live streamed to our phones while the rest of the world, including Canada, participates and profits from it. Our hearts are broken and we simply cannot take it any longer,” says Gur Tsabar with Jews Say No to Genocide Coalition. “The majority of the world stands with Palestine, and today we are putting our bodies on the line again to demand that Canada does everything and anything to stop Israeli atrocities, starting with a two-way arms embargo on Israel.”

Today’s actions take inspiration from Shut Down Canada, the wave of disruptions that rolled across the country in 2020, after militarized RCMP units attacked Wet’suwet’en land defenders and evicted them at gunpoint from their territory as they tried to stop the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline. It was a brutal violation of Wet’suwet’en sovereignty and the right of Indigenous people to free, prior and informed consent.

“In 2020, when the RCMP invaded our lands and violated our sovereignty, we called for solidarity actions to Shut Down Canada. From the ports of Vancouver to the tracks at Tyendinaga, communities rose up to disrupt the Canadian economy and resist colonial violence,” recalled Chief Na’moks, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief. “Today, people are rising up once again. We stand in resolute solidarity with Palestine and with all people resisting genocide. From Wedzin Kwah to the sea!”

“Indigenous people across Turtle Island have been at the forefront of the Palestine solidarity movement, drawing powerful connections between colonial violence here and colonial violence globally,” said Tori Cress from Keepers of the Water. “Just as Idle No More inspired people across these territories to resist the Canadian state, so too are communities now taking matters into their own hands.”

A comprehensive, two-way arms embargo would prevent weapons, military equipment, and parts from both going to Israel from Canada and coming to Canada from Israel. It would prohibit exporting and importing arms and related materials to and from Israel, including “dual-use” items that have both military and non-military functions. It would also close the loophole that allows weapons and parts to be exported to the United States, with little tracking or transparency, and then assembled into weapons systems destined for Israel.

“Our government must implement a real, comprehensive, two-way arms embargo on Israel,” said Rachel Small with World BEYOND War. “This rail shut down and all the actions you see across Canada this week are one more way of raising that demand. And let’s be clear. Winning an arms embargo is just a first step, it’s really the bare minimum Canada should be doing right now. We will keep showing up until Israel stops killing Palestinians, until aid is delivered, until Palestinian prisoners are released, until Gaza is rebuilt, until the occupation and Israeli apartheid are no more, and until a just peace is realized. We will not stop until Palestine is free!”


For the past six months, Israel has attacked Gaza relentlessly from the air, land, and sea. The
magnitude of the destruction is well-documented: Israel has killed more than 33,700 Palestinians,
and thousands more are missing, buried under the rubble. Some 14,000 of those killed are
children. 17,000 children are separated from their parents or have no adult to accompany them.
More than 76,000 Palestinians have been injured or maimed. Israel has damaged 60% of the
residential buildings in Gaza, destroyed all the universities, laid siege to hospitals and razed
them, bombed schools, mosques, and churches. It has targeted women and children seeking
shelter; doctors, nurses and paramedics; university professors and journalists; and humanitarian
aid workers for extrajudicial assassination. At least 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza have been
displaced from their homes, some multiple times over, and many are now taking shelter in tent
camps with inadequate sanitation infrastructure and the serious risk of disease. The provision of
humanitarian aid has been so obstructed that famine has taken hold in Northern Gaza.

Canada is complicit in these crimes. Over the first and most deadly two months of Israel’s assault
on Gaza the Trudeau government authorized a record $28.5 million in new arms export permits
to Israel. Palestinians and their allies took to the streets by the tens of thousands, calling on the
Government of Canada to do what it could to stop the indiscriminate killing, including impose an
arms embargo on Israel. But the government obfuscated and misled the public about the nature
and extent of Canadian exports to Israel. Liberal officials, ministers and MPs falsely claimed that
Canada does not export weapons to Israel, or that no export permits had been issued for
Canadian arms transfers to Israel since October 7th, or that Canada only exports “non-lethal”
equipment to Israel.

Across the country, more and more people added their voices to calls for an arms embargo, and
joined organizing efforts to make it a reality.

In March, the NDP advanced a motion in Parliament that called for Canada’s arms trade with
Israel to be suspended. Trudeau’s Liberals, hoping to avoid a split in their own caucus, negotiated
a watered-down version of the motion, including a clause that would “cease the further
authorization and transfer of arms exports to Israel to ensure compliance with Canada’s arms
export regime…” The motion passed. Though it was non-binding, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly
stated publicly that she intended to honour it. Yet almost a month later — a month during which
Israel has continued to conduct air strikes and commit atrocities, and killed aid workers while
children starved to death — there is no evidence that she has formalized the cessation of arms
export authorizations. Moreover, suspending future export authorizations and transfers to Israel
does not go nearly far enough, given the urgency and scale of the devastation in Gaza, and the
gravity of Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law.

The seriousness of these violations is undeniable.

In January, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found it plausible that Israel is committing
acts of genocide in Gaza. The ICJ ruling should have served as a warning to Canada that as a
signatory to the Genocide Convention, it had to take every measure within its power to prevent
genocide in Gaza.

In February, United Nations human rights experts warned that sending weapons, ammunition or
parts to Israel that would be used in Gaza is likely a violation of international humanitarian law.
In March, Francesca Albanese, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the
Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, published a report concluding that “there are
reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating the commission of the following acts
of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza has been met: killing members of the group; causing
serious bodily or mental harm to groups’ members; and deliberately inflicting on the group
conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” She
reminded states of their “obligations to enforce the prohibition of genocide,” and recommended
that they implement an arms embargo on Israel.

At the beginning of April, the United Nations Human Rights Council called on all states to stop
“the sale, transfer, and diversion of arms, munitions and other military equipment to Gaza.”
But the government of Canada has dragged its feet, ignoring international law, international legal
experts and its own laws and constituents. It has continued to extend support for Israel’s
genocidal acts.

According to the Government of Canada itself, an arms embargo is a sanction that “aims to
prevent weapons and military equipment from leaving or reaching a targeted country.” Imposing
a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel requires that the Government of Canada must
immediately stop the transfer of all previously approved arms exports to Israel, including the
record-breaking number approved in the last quarter of 2023. It must halt the export of vast
quantities of Canadian arms and components to Israel via the United States.

An arms embargo also requires that Canada must ban the import of weapons, military equipment
and surveillance technology from Israel. Canada is Israel’s sixth largest arms customer. In
December 2023, when Israel had already massacred nearly 20,000 Palestinians, the Canadian
military announced a new deal with Israeli state-owned weapons giant Rafael to purchase $43
Million of their Spike LR2 missiles, missiles that the Israeli military is currently using in their
attacks on Gaza. This means that the government is purchasing weapons advertised to them as
“battle-tested” against Palestinian civilians, and that Canadian tax dollars are funding the Israeli
war machine. A full arms embargo will also include prohibiting the import and export to Israel of
a range of “dual-use” technology and equipment. The government has a range of laws and policy
tools that it can use to enact these measures. It must not delay any further.

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Our Theory of Change

How To End War

Move for Peace Challenge
Antiwar Events
Help Us Grow

Small Donors Keep Us Going

If you select to make a recurring contribution of at least $15 per month, you may select a thank-you gift. We thank our recurring donors on our website.

This is your chance to reimagine a world beyond war
WBW Shop
Translate To Any Language