‘It’s deeply painful’: Group in Esquimalt calls for end of weapon sales to Israel

'It's deeply painful': Group in Esquimalt calls for end of weapon sales to Israel
People gathered at the Lockheed Martin offices in Esquimalt on Nov. 13, 2023 to protest the sale of weapons to Israel.

As the conflict in Gaza continues into its second month, people gathered in Esquimalt in front of the Lockheed Martin office to call for an end to Canadian military aid and weapon sales to Israel.

Around 70 people gathered at the offices on Lockley Road in Esquimalt. The offices were chosen because the group says “Lockheed Martin plays a significant role in arming the State of Israel. They supply the IDF with F-16 fighter jets, F-35 fighter jets, CH-53K helicopters and other military hardware and software,” the group said in a news release.

Maia Wikler, one of the spokespeople at the event on Monday, echoes what some have been saying in calling the bombing of Gaza a genocide, and says more action should be done to stop it.

“It’s deeply painful, and especially as a Jewish person, I think that myself and also all Jews have a responsibility and a really deep understanding of what it means to stand alongside those who are also suffering genocidal intent, and ethnic cleansing,” Wikler said.

“As this continues to unfold, and as Israel continues their occupation of Palestine, I will always advocate and stand alongside those who are organizing for justice.”

On Nov. 2, a group of eight UN experts called for a ceasefire, and said the Palestinian people are at “grave risk of genocide.”

“All parties must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. We demand a humanitarian ceasefire to ensure that aid reaches those who need it the most. A ceasefire also means channels of communication can be opened to ensure the release of hostages,” the experts said.

On Oct. 14, Francesca Albanese, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, warned that Palestine was on the verge of another mass ethnic cleansing.

“There is a grave danger that what we are witnessing may be a repeat of the 1948 Nakba, and the 1967 Naksa, yet on a larger scale. The international community must do everything to stop this from happening again,” Albanese said in a news release on Oct. 14.

The 1948 Nakba refers to when over 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes to establish the State of Israel. The 1967 Naska refers to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which displaced 350,000 Palestinians.

“Israel has already carried out mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians under the fog of war,” Albanese said. “Again, in the name of self-defence, Israel is seeking to justify what would amount to ethnic cleansing.”

“Any continued military operations by Israel have gone well beyond the limits of international law. The international community must stop these egregious violations of international law now, before tragic history is repeated. Time is of the essence. Palestinians and Israelis both deserve to live in peace, equality of rights, dignity and freedom.”

Wikler says the group is calling for a ceasefire, an end to sending military equipment to Israel, and an end to unconditional support from Canada for Israel.

“As a Jewish person, I firmly believe that never again applies to any place that is facing genocide and ethnic cleansing,” Wikler said. “But I think that it’s important for us all to witness and acknowledge the memory and the history of those territories in the Middle East.”

RELATED: The Palestine-Israel conflict: A look at history of what led to the situation today

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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