Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea is extremely concerned to learn that South Korea has agreed on a deal to purchase more non-line-of-sight (NLOS) Spike missiles from Israel’s second largest government-owned defense company in Israel, Raphael Advanced Defense Systems.
The Korean government originally purchased 67 of the missiles from Raphael back in 2011 in a deal worth US$43 million. The new deal was announced by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration on January 10 which stated that they would be used on eight new AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat maritime attack helicopters the government ordered in January of 2013 which can carry a total of four Spike missiles each. The missiles are going for around US$300,000 a piece.
First jointly developed in 2005/06 by Rafael and the U.S. Navy in 2005–2006, the missiles are electro-optically guided and can deliver anti-armor, penetration blast fragmentation and fragmentation warheads to a range of up to 25km (15 miles). The original batch of Spike missiles are currently positioned on Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong Islands near the North Korean coastline, following North Korea’s shelling of the latter in 2010 in response to joint US-South Korean war games exercises conducted near the border.
Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea is deeply concerned about military transactions between South Korea and Israel in light of the ongoing human rights abuses committed by the IDF in its occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza.
According to Defense News, while the technology was only declassified in August 2011, Raphael’s missile was first used in Gaza in 2005. Spike missiles were also deployed by Israel in its 2008/09 Operation Cast Lead assault on Gaza in which 1,389 Palestinians were killed (a figure which includes 759 civilians and 318 children) and more than 5,300 wounded. In a 2009 report on a selection of six Israeli drone strikes in densely-populated areas that resulted in the deaths of 29 civilians (including eight children) during Operation Cast Lead, Human Rights Watch’s own inspections revealed that “the impact mark of the missile and the fragmentation pattern were consistent with the Israeli-produced Spike missile”.
Rafael recently acquired 49% of Korean communications company PineTelecom which develops military technology for the Korean defense market, and also produces the Iron Dome missile defense system which it has been trying to sell to South Korea for over two years. The Israeli government-owned arms manufacturer was originally established by the Ministry of Defense in 1948 to develop missile technology, netting US$148 million in profits in 2012. The company is heavily complicit in the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land, boasting that its “know-how is embedded in almost all Israel Defense Forces (IDF) systems in operation today”.
Also a major concern is the fact that South Korea is also considering the purchase of additional variants of the Spike for combat helicopters to be developed by Korean Airspace Industries (KAI), a deal which could be worth over a billion US dollars. Defense Update is reporting that the Lahat missile from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is one of the missiles being considered.
Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea calls for a full embargo on the purchase of all Israeli made weapons in light of the ongoing occupation and flagrant disregard for the rights of Palestinians and international law. The purchase of such weapons only further fuels the occupation by expanding the business and increasing the profitability of Israeli companies like Rafael, which are wholly dependent on Israel’s war economy. In addition, such purchases only deepen the militarization of the Korean peninsular and make diplomatic solutions that might eventually lead to a peace treaty being signed between the two Koreas increasingly unlikely.