Palestine – the view from Korea (May 27, 2013)

Palestine Peace & Solidarity in South Korea set up a booth at the 18th Seoul Human Rights Film Festival in order to promote our campaign to pressure Hyundai Heavy Industries to commit to making no future sales of its products to Israel to be used for the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied Palestinian territories, hand out our report on ROK-Israel relations (online version available here) and meet people interested in supporting human rights. We sold some of our new T-shirts and handmade jewelry as well. If you’re interested, you can check out our online store. It was great fun and we’re so grateful to everyone who helped out in different ways, from grabbing a T-shirt to support us or jumping behind the counter to get your hands a little dirty. We were very fortunate to have lots of friends join us this year! (Please email your photos to so I can post them here.)

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In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for May 16 – 22 the Palestinian Center for Human Rights is reporting that 14 Palestinian civilians (including 12 children) sustained injuries at the hands of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) at a protest in front of al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah. The IDF also carried out 65 incursions into the occupied West Bank in this period during which a further three Palestinians sustained injuries. Another 32 Palestinian civilians were arrested inside the occupied West Bank. In occupied East Jerusalem where Hyundai’s equipment has been documented being used, the IDF demolished 8 houses and forced a man to demolish his own home. The Israeli Committee to End Home Demolitions puts the total Palestinian structures demolished by the IDF for 2013 at 237 with 397 people displaced. It also puts the total number of Palestinians injured by the IDF for this year at 2,233. Homes are demolished to make way for the growth of Jewish-only settlements, illegal under international law and the UN has consistently called for the withdrawal of, were expanded by nearly 8,000 dunams last year (one dunam equals 1,000m2).

Bulldozers demolish a residential home in the Jabal Mukabbir neighborhood in East Jerusalem, May 21, 2013. From ActiveStills/Tali Mayer.
Bulldozers demolish a residential home in the Jabal Mukabbir neighborhood in East Jerusalem, May 21, 2013. From ActiveStills/Tali Mayer.

Furthermore, Hyundai construction equipment is being used in the development of a six-lane settlement highway that will cut through the middle of the Palestinian community of Beit Safafa in East Jerusalem which is home to over 9,000 residents. The construction project has been condemned by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights Richard Falk who recently issued the following statement: “Companies taking part in the construction of the illegal highway in Beit Safafa, under the auspices of the Moriah Jerusalem Development Company and their implementing partner, D.Y. Barazani Ltd., must be held responsibleEarth moving equipment of Volvo, CAT, Hyundai and JCB has been seen at the construction sites.” [Emphasis mine.]

House demolition, Abu Tur, East Jerusalem, 02/10/09

Back on the peninsula, there is still concern that South Korea may decide to purchase Israel’s Iron Dome “defense” system despite missing out on a deal that would ensure Israel purchase South Korean made fighter jets and ships. While the deal has been on the cards for a couple of years now, there is no clear indication of whether any acquisition will be made. The South Korean military has recently deployed a number of Israeli made satellite guided Spike missiles along its borders islands that could be used to strike North Korea’s artillery guns along its border despite reservations from inside the South Korean military establishment that the missiles may not be suitable and have not yet been adequately tested.