Palestine: the view from Korea (March 25, 2013)

* For those interested in getting involved with Palestine Peace & Solidarity in Korea, we meet weekly on Mondays at our office in Hapjeong at 7:30pm. Please email Tom @ palestinekorea@gmail.com for more information. We welcome you to join us! *

World Water Day was held on March 22 and marked in South Korea by a joint symposium between Israel and South Korea on water management. You might like to view our previous post about the water crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories that is the result of illegal Israeli policies and I also recommend you head over to Al Haq to view their special coverage.

Land Day is fast approaching. The 30th of March is Land Day which marks the day in 1976 when 6 Palestinians living in Israel were shot and killed by Israeli forces during a protest against the illegal appropriation of Palestinian land in the north of the country to build Jewish-only settlements. Some 100 more Palestinians were injured and hundreds were arrested. Last year Land Day was marked around the world by the Global March to Jerusalem in which tens of thousands of Palestinians and others from neighboring countries joined in action, linking to an international day of action as part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Palestine Peace and Solidarity in Korea (PPS) is planning a solidarity action which will be notified to members once plans are finalized.

Image from the ActiveStills collective which is comprised of Israeli and international documentary photo-graphers with a strong conviction that photography is a vehicle for social change.
Image from the ActiveStills collective which is comprised of Israeli and international documentary photo-graphers with a strong conviction that photography is a vehicle for social change.

Obama’s Visit

US President Obama visited Israel and the occupied West Bank last week in which he met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas. Shortly after Obama’s arrival a number of children on their way to school were arrested by the IDF in Hebron. The International Middle East Media Center reports that between March 16 – 22 at least 52 military actions were conducted inside the occupied West Bank in which 67 Palestinians were arrested including the 41 children.

In giving a speech to Israeli youth Obama was heckled by a member of the audience who was escorted out of the hall. While many Palestinians expected little from Obama’s visit, his trip to the occupied West Bank met with the response of a small protest of 200 people in Ramallah. During his trip Obama went back on his initial position of demanding a settlement freeze which severely limits any chance of a viable solution. At the same time, the UN Human Rights Council passed a number of resolutions on Israeli settlements expressing concern over settlements and settle violence. It is worth remembering that the U.S. has given Israel some $234 billion in aid to Israel since 1948 and could certainly use this leverage to demand an end to the illegal settlement expansions. One can only hope that Obama will pick up the report from the final Russell Tribunal on Palestine just released and consider its findings of Israeli and US responsibility for war crimes seriously.

Part of this U.S. support has been for specific military projects such as the development of  the Iron Dome missile defense system (to the tune of $1.1 billion), the effectiveness of which has been under scrutiny following the November 2012 Gaza attacks, which the South Korean government has shown an interest in since late 2011.

In response to two rocket attacks from Gaza into Southern Israel during Obama’s visit on March 22, Israel has re-imposed a 3-mile nautical limit for fisherman off the west coast of Gaza, effectively tightening the already crippling siege. Egypt has been trying to close down a number of the tunnels by filling them with sewage despite the fact that they allow for the transportation of nearly one third of all of goods that reach Gaza and provide the only lifeline to many during under the siege.

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