Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories, including occupied and illegally annexed East Jerusalem, continue to live under Israeli military occupation and are subjected to forced evictions, displacement and other human rights violations through home demolitions which are carried out in violation of international law. The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions estimates that some 27,000 Palestinian structures have been demolished in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967. By April 2, some 155 structures have already been destroyed and 309 Palestinians displaced in 2013 alone.1)
Home demolition occurs in order to make way for the construction of Jewish-only settlements in violation of Article 49 of the Geneva Convention as recognized by the International Court of Justice and the international community including South Korea. The United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements recommended in January that Israel halt all settlement construction and begin an immediate withdrawal of all settlers from the occupied Palestinian territories. 2)
Hyundai’s equipment is regularly seen being used to demolish Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem on a number of occasions including on those documented on November 10, 2010 in All Isawiya and on Wadi al-Ghrous on March 2, 2011.3) While Palestine Peace and Solidarity (PPS) welcomed Hyundai Heavy Industries’ (HHI) announcement in early 2013 that its contract to supply Robex 320 LC-7A excavators to Automotive Equipment group had concluded, the company has subsequently informed our organization that it is currently seeking out a new contractor in order to continue its business.
Principle 2 of the United Nations Global Compact, adopted in 1999, stipulates that “Businesses should make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses.” In addition, the destruction of personal and public property that is not essential for military operations is expressly prohibited in Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. The systematic and continued destruction of homes and displacement of Palestinian inhabitants of occupied East Jerusalem as part of Israel’s creeping annexation of Palestinian land is a clear violation of this article.
Furthermore, it is the responsibility of companies to ensure they do not benefit from war crimes, crimes against humanity or other violations of international humanitarian law and act to prevent its own products from being used to commit human rights violations by police, military or security forces as described in the UN Sub-Commission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in its Norms on the responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights adopted on August 12, 2003.
According to the aforementioned principles of international law, not only must Hyundai Heavy Industries commit to not selling its products for use by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in the occupied Palestinian territories given a documented history of human rights abuses, but the company must take active measures against the use of those products already sold that continue to be used in the illegal destruction of homes and other human rights abuses.
Through the sale of its construction equipment Hyundai professes to be “helping to build a better world”.4) Selling its products which are used in the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes as has been documented stands in stark contrast to such a vision. We call upon Hyundai Heavy Industries to meet its legal obligation by making a firm commitment not to sell its products for use by the IDF in the occupied Palestinian territories.
REFERENCES: 1) The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions: http://www.icahd.org/ [updated on April 2, 2013]. 2) ‘Independent UN inquiry urges halt to Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory’, UN News Center: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44045. 3) Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea, Israel-South Korea Relations: Republic of Korea’s complicity in Israel’s occupation, colonialism and apartheid. Seoul: PPS, 2012, pp. 58-59. Available online: http://pal.or.kr/data/Israel-South-Korea-Relations.pdf. 4) Hyundai Heavy Industries, Annual Report 2011: http://www.hhiir.com/Upload/Annual_Report/KR/Construction%20Equipment(46~49).pdf, p. 48.