Boycott Hyundai to end its involvement in Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities in Jerusalem and the Naqab

We, Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea strongly support for this call from BDS48. Our actions will be followed later this month with other human rights groups in South Korea.


Haifa, 7 February 2017

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) calls upon our Palestinian people in the homeland and the Diaspora, the peoples of the Arab world, and people of conscience worldwide to boycott and divest from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), until it ends its involvement in Israel’s violations of our human rights, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev).

BDS48 is launching this boycott campaign at this particular moment in light of the extensive use of Hyundai equipment by the Israeli authorities in the recent demolitions of many homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Naqab, on 18 January 2017, and in Qalansawa, further north, on 10 January 2017. According to Arabic media reports, the Israeli authorities are planning a second wave of home demolitions in Umm al-Hiran in the coming few days.

Despite being faced with documented evidence of its persistent complicity in Israeli ethnic cleansing policies against Palestinians and Syrians in the territories occupied since 1967, Hyundai has failed to stop its business-as-usual involvement. It has thus forfeited its responsibilities as stated in the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

In Umm al-Hiran, Israeli armed forces destroyed many homes in the village, forcibly removing its Bedouin Palestinian population for the second time since the 1948 Nakba, injuring tens of peaceful protestors, and murdering the educator Yaquob Abu al-Qiyan in cold blood. The objective of this bloody conquest is to establish a Jewish-only colony on the ethnically cleansed village’s lands.

This latest crime by Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid comes as part of its ongoing policy of gradual ethnic cleansing since 1948 and that has led to the forcible displacement of most of the indigenous Palestinian people from our ancestral land. Israel today has more than 60 racist laws that legalize and institutionalize its special form of apartheid against its indigenous Palestinian citizens.

Inspired by the massive global solidarity movement that helped to end apartheid in South Africa, and stemming from the moral responsibility that falls on the shoulders of citizens and institutions everywhere to end any involvement in human rights violations, we, as Palestinian human rights defenders in Israel, call on:

  • People of conscience around the world to boycott Hyundai products;
  • Institutions, investment funds and churches to divest from Hyundai and local councils to exclude the company from public tenders;
  • Hyundai workers and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) to stand in solidarity with our peaceful struggle by pressuring the Hyundai management to stop the company’s complicity in Israeli violations of human rights. Our campaign is not intended at all to harm the interests of the company’s workers but to protect the rights of our people as stipulated in international law.

The achievements and impact of the global, Palestinian-led BDS movement for Palestinian rights have grown immensely in recent years, to the extent that Israel has recognized the movement’s “strategic” impact. BDS is today an essential pillar of the nonviolent Palestinian popular struggle for our inalienable rights under international law, most importantly the right to self-determination and the right of our refugees to return to their homes of origin.

Through this campaign to boycott Hyundai and your effective participation in it, we can pressure the company to end its involvement in Israel’s violations of human rights, just as several multinational giants were compelled by effective BDS campaigns to exit the Israeli market.

Veolia was the first to end its complicity in Israel’s human rights violations in 2015, followed by Orange telecommunication, CRH, and most recently G4S, the largest security company in the world, which sold almost all its illegal business in Israel.

Our people have decided to besiege our siege. Our campaign against Hyundai is part of this nonviolent human rights movement that has proven itself to be strategic and effective in isolating Israel’s regime of oppression academically, culturally and economically in order to exercise and protect our right as a people to live on our land in freedom, justice and dignity.

Fact Sheet

Hyundai’s complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights

  1. Hyundai, one of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers that specializes in excavation and construction equipment, sells its products to Israel with full knowledge that they are used in the demolition of Palestinian homes, particularly in the occupied-Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan, Beit Hanina, Surbaher, al-Issawiyya and at-Tur. These Israeli collective punishment measures are part of an ongoing policy of ethnic cleansing and apartheid that was compared by a leading UN official to the policies of the defunct South African apartheid regime.
  2. Human rights defenders have documented Israel’s use of Hyundai equipment in the construction of Israel’s illegal settlements, such as Halamish, near Ramallah, and the Barkan industrial zone, in the northern West Bank. This involvement by Hyundai is a flagrant form of complicity in Israel’s settlement policy, which was recently condemned by the UNSC resolution 2334 and which constitutes a war crime according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
  3. The human rights organization Adalah has documented the Israeli authorities’ decision in 1956 to allow the establishment of the village, Atir-Umm al-Hiran, to house the Bedouin Palestinians who were forcibly displaced during the 1948 Nakba from their original village, Khirbet Zubaleh. In 2015, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plan to forcibly displace them again from “Umm al-Hiran” to build a Jewish-only colony called Hiran.
  4. In response to the Israeli crime of demolishing Umm al-Hiran, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has called for boycotts and divestment against international corporations that are involved in Israel’s policy of home demolitions and ethnic cleansing, especially Caterpillar, Volvo, Hitachi and Hyundai. It has also called for expelling the Israeli parliament (Knesset) from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) due to its pivotal role in legislating these colonial and apartheid policies.
  5. In 2012, then UN Special Rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories, international law expert Richard Falk, called on the UN General Assembly to endorse a boycott of international corporations that are complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Falk’s list of companies included Caterpillar and Volvo, due to their involvement in the construction of Israeli colonies and the demolition of Palestinian homes. Hyundai is accused of involvement in similar crimes.
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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 palestinekorea@gmail.com so I can post them here.)

hr film fest 2 hr film fest 3 hr film fest 4

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.

Palestine: the view from Korea (April 22, 2013)

Apologies for missing last week’s update. As Palestine Peace & Solidarity has been busier than usual, I was unable to offer an update last week. By way of making up for this, this week I want to focus on some achievements made by the solidarity movement after a quick review of PPS’ recent actions.

Palestine Peace & Solidarity Action Review

Hyundai Flash Mob (April 12): PPS activists and friends gathered in front of Hyundai Heavy Industries’ main building in Jongno and in locations in Gwanghwamun, downtown Seoul, on April 12 to call on the company to make a commitment to end all sales of its products for use by Israel to carry out illegal activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. We were met by a representative of the company who agreed to pass on our complaint and get back to us. We are still waiting on their reply and have promised to return in the future if no such commitment is made. You can read our statement on Hyundai here and see a video of our action below.

GDAMS (April 15): April 15 was the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) and PPS teamed up with 23 other anti-war/peace groups and other civil society organizations to demand that both Koreas put down their arms for peace. A promotional video was made which won the Craziest GDAMS Video award which I hope you will take a few minutes to watch.

As the day coincided with the reopening of the National Assembly, a press conference was held in front of the assembly building with members from the different groups as well as 15 parliamentarians in attendance. The full press statement can be read here. In addition, a Korea-Japan Civil Society Joint Statement was endorsed by participating groups and published and activists donned Teletubby costumes and gathered messages of peace from the public throughout the day. It is interesting to see how these larger-than-life creatures can disarm even the most pro-war of pedestrians! The day ended with a talk titled ‘Sorrows of Empire: Confronting U.S. Military Imperialism’ by U.S. Veterans for Peace activist Dud Hendrick at which he discussed the impact of the U.S. empire of bases around the world.

We encourage you to join the photo petition by taking a photo of yourself calling for peace on the Korean peninsula and uploading it here onto the GDAMS Tumblr page.

 Palestinian Prisoners’ Day (April 17): PPS prepared a street action a day before the official day, on April 16, in front of the Israeli Embassy in downtown Seoul. Focusing on the practice administrative detention widely employed by Israel on Palestinians including many children, we handed out a bilingual information leaflet from Addameer and demanded an end to this cruel practice. You can read our short report on administrative detention here.

Palestine Peace and Solidarity activists In front of the Israeli Embassy, Seoul (April 16)
Palestine Peace and Solidarity activists In front of the Israeli Embassy, Seoul (April 16)

The human costs of occupation

The Palestine Center for Human Rights reports that during the week of April 11 – 17 the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) made a total of 71 incursions into the occupied West Bank in which four civilians (including two children) were wounded. A Palestinian shepherd was also shot and wounded by the IDF in the Gaza Strip and fisherman continued to be shot at by Israeli forces imposing the 3-nautical mile limit off Gaza’s western coast. 40 Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank, seven of whom were children.

Resistance and Hope

Palestinian Tent Villages: A new form of protest is gaining popularity in Palestine in which Palestinians are establishing what are referred to as ‘tent villages’ throughout the occupied West Bank in opposition to the development of new illegal, Jewish-only Israeli settlements. In a sense, the use of tents to form villages can be seen as an inversion of the illegal Israeli appropriation of Palestinian land. While not a completely new tactic, the recent use of tent villages as a protest space for Palestinians and international activists supporting their struggle began in January and gained momentum during President Obama’s recent visit. The aim is to build a national movement to occupy land from which Palestinians have been dispossessed.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions: Momentum appears to be increasing in the U.S. for the BDS campaign. The Student Senate at the University of California – Berkeley debated through the night of April 17 and into the morning of April 18, finally passing a resolution to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza.

In addition, the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) recently adopted a resolution in support of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions at its annual meeting. The US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel is stating that it is the first U.S. academic organization to boycott Israeli institutions.

In another success for the BDS movement possibly driven by the concerted effort of Palestine-based Addameer and other Palestinian prisoner support organizatons, G4S, the world’s largest security company in the world has signaled that it will end some of its contracts with Israel. The company currently operates in 125 countries hand has supplies security systems to all of the major Israeli prisons and detention centers where Palestinians are detained. The company claims it will end its contracts which provide security systems for Israeli military checkpoints, one prison and a police station in the occupied West Bank, but will continue to service prisons inside Israel where thousands of Palestinians are held.

Refuseniks: the courage to say No!: 19-year-old Israeli Natan Blanc is the latest brave Israeli to face jail time as a conscientious objector after refusing to serve in the Israeli military in opposition to its brutal occupation of Palestinian territory. He has already racked up 120 days in prison but refuses to abide by anything but his conscience. Other refuseniks, as they are known in Israel, include the nephew of current Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, Bibi Netanyahu who views Israel as an apartheid state. Below is a short interview with Natan which is quite inspiring.

[Statement] Hyundai’s Cutting Off of Deal with AEG Welcomed

Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea (PPS) welcomes Hyundai’s ending its ties with AEG. In the last ten years we’ve seen Hyundai excavators imported by AEG used to destroy Palestinian homes.

PPS recently sent a letter to Hyundai Heavy Industries to enquire about their relationship with Israeli company Automotive Equipment Group (AEG) concerning the Robex 320 LC-7A excavator deal. Hyundai replied that they had “stopped the deal with AEG and already sent an official notification letter early in January 2013.”

The Israeli authorities destroy Palestinians’ houses and force them onto the streets stating that Palestinians who have been living on the land since before the state of Israel even existed are no longer permitted to live there. Moreover, while Palestinians continue to be displaced as their homes are destroyed, Israel never grants permission to Palestinians to construct new buildings.

The Israeli authorities notify the Palestinians in advance that they will demolish their houses, but never inform them of when it will happen. Usually, at daybreak, fully-armed Israeli troops come to a house and force the sleeping occupants to pack up their belongings and evacuate their home, and within 15 minutes and an excavator starts to demolish the house. Palestinians even have to pay for the cost of the house demolition.

Hyundai’s excavator is being used in this process along with excavators made by American companies Volvo and Caterpillar. When we asked Hyundai whether they knew that Hyundai’s excavator was the main equipment used to demolish Palestinian homes, they replied that they “never supplied the excavators for a specific purpose” but “simply provided them to the private sector, but not for military purposes”. They also stated that “we know that our excavators were also used in Palestine for construction (reconstruction).”

There is ample evidence available from a simple Google search of the use of Hyundai’s excavators for house demolitions in Palestine. Our intention here is to point out that the Israel’s policy of displacement clearly violates international law and Hyundai’s involvement violates its own management philosophy to “contribute to social development as a global corporate citizen.”

Excavators constructed by Hyundai or other companies such as Volvo and Caterpillar should not be used in the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes. Although Hyundai ended its contract with AEG, it is likely that we will continue to see those excavations already sold to AEG continue to be used destroy homes.

PPS will continue to monitor Hyundai’s actions closely to see whether they renew their ties with Israeli companies in the future.

30 January, 2013

Palestine Peace and Solidarity in South Korea

(See the Korean version here: http://pal.or.kr/xe/162190)