Hyundai must divest from Israel's destruction of Palestinian village Masafer Yatta: Amnesty
Leading human rights organisations have called on global automotive firm Hyundai CE to end their "link with war crimes in Masafer Yatta" after Hyundai machines were used in the destruction of Palestinian homes.
Amnesty International and Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) said on Thursday that they documented five instances where Israeli forces used excavators manufactured by the South Korean multinational to raze Palestinian property in Masafer Yatta in the occupied West Bank.
"Palestinians in Masafer Yatta are living in a state of constant dread - watching the horizon for the arrival of Israeli forces, and the excavators which mean the end of life as they know it," said Amnesty International’s Mark Dummett.
"Some residents have already seen the Israeli military use excavators to demolish the homes of their neighbours and rip out essential village infrastructure - excavators which bore Hyundai’s logo."
The New Arab contacted Hyundai CE’s Israeli distributor for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication. They had previously stated the company was "not engaged in Israeli settlement activities".
The Israeli military designated the Masafer Yatta area as a "live-fire training zone" in 1980, exposing Palestinian inhabitants to constant demolitions and the ever-present threat of expulsion.
While Israel claims that Palestinians did not live permanently in Masafer Yatta before it was declared a firing zone, human rights groups say that the locals have lived in the area well before Israel's occupation of the West Bank in 1967. These claims have been backed by historical documentation of their long-term residence in the area.
In June 2022 the UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a periodic report that if carried out, the expulsion of Palestinians from Masafer Yatta would constitute a "war crime".
The same position was announced in early June by US lawmakers, and 83 US lawmakers signed a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, calling for a halt to the expulsion of Palestinians from Masafer Yatta.
In early January, the Israeli government notified the Palestinian Authority’s liaison office that eight of the villages of Masafer Yatta will be soon forcibly evacuated for Israeli military drills.
Demolitions have increased in 2023 and many residents now fear the long-awaited mass expulsion is imminent.