Israel touts air defense system to South Korea

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, lieft, speaks to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, during their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, July 15, 2019. (AP)
Updated 16 July 2019

Israel touts air defense system to South Korea

  • South Korea and Israel established diplomatic ties in 1962 and the latter opened an embassy in Seoul in 1992

SEOUL: President Reuven Rivlin extolled the virtues of Israeli air defense missile systems during a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on Monday at the presidential Blue House, citing the need to defend the country against its nuclear-armed northern neighbor.
Rivlin noted “big similarities” between the two countries, both having survived conflicts to become global economic powers.
“Both South Korea and Israel faced catastrophic events after World War II, but we have built great nations and people, rising from the ashes of war,” the Israeli president said in a statement ahead of his talks with Moon.
“We didn’t have powers to defend ourselves in 1948, but we have our own defense powers now.”
While stressing the importance of efforts to build trust with neighboring countries, Rivlin warned countries “should not be naive” in dealing with military threats.
“In the past, the threat of missiles existed only on the frontlines of battlefields, but now civilians have become the subject of such threats,” the Israeli leader said.
“We should protect our people with missile defense systems capable of intercepting enemy missiles that could threaten the lives of our people.”
Rivlin did not specify the name of the system he described, but local experts believe the Israeli head of state was referring to the country’s Irone Dome air defense system.
“Iron Dome is a wish list item of the South Korean military to help thwart the threats of North Korea’s long-range artillery deployed near the border,” Kim Dae-young, a weapons analyst at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, told Arab News.
“Israeli forces operate the air defense systems to defend against rockets fired by Hamas. The system is considered a useful option to thwart North Korea’s artillery attacks, especially against targets in the metropolitan area.”
South Korea has already deployed key Israeli-built weapons systems in the field in bids to complement its theater air and missile defense system (KAMD), which consists of US Patriot missile interceptors, as well as locally-built medium and long-range interceptors. To detect and track incoming missiles, KAMD operates Israel’s ground-based EL/M-2080 missile defense radar equipment.

BACKGROUND

South Korea has already deployed key Israeli-built weapons systems in the field in bids to complement its theater air and missile defense system (KAMD)

But Israel’s potential arms pitch would not kick in yet, Kim said, since Moon’s administration was prioritizing engagement with Pyongyang.
The leaders of the divided Korean Peninsula have met four times since the inauguration of Moon’s administration in May 2017, making substantial progress in reducing military tensions. 
Still, the North’s artillery batteries, deployed near the border, pose significant threats to the South, as the weaponry is capable of hitting Seoul and surrounding areas.
According to the latest South Korean defense white paper, published in 2016, the North Korean military has about 14,000 artillery weapons, including 5,500 multiple rocket launchers, the majority of which have been deployed near the border.
On the economic front, Moon and Rivlin agreed to sign a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) to expand cooperation in investment, services and technology.
“The two countries have a mutually supplementary economic cooperation structure and share the common goal of nurturing future and cutting-edge industries,” Moon said. Bilateral trade between the two hit a record high of $2.7 billion last year.
Seoul and Jerusalem started FTA talks in May 2015 and have had several rounds of negotiations.
Moon expressed hope that Israel would share its experience in nurturing high-tech startups, which could foster substantive partnerships in sectors like the hydrogen economy, artificial intelligence and 5G wireless communication networks.
The two leaders also signed memorandums of understanding to promote cooperation in hydrogen energy and higher education exchanges.
Rivlin is accompanied by two delegations from Israel’s business and academic sectors, led by Adiv Baruch, chair of the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, and Professor Yaffa Zilbershats, chair of the Council for Higher Education Planning and Budgeting Committee.
South Korea and Israel established diplomatic ties in 1962 and the latter opened an embassy in Seoul in 1992.


Kashmir protesters defy restrictions, clash with security forces

Updated 23 August 2019

Kashmir protesters defy restrictions, clash with security forces

  • Paramilitary police tried to enter Soura, which has emerged as a center of the protests, as hundreds demonstrated against Narendra Modi’s decision to withdraw autonomy
  • Posters appeared overnight in Srinagar, the Muslim-majority region’s main city, calling for a march to the office of the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan

SRINAGAR, India: Security forces used tear gas against stone-throwing local residents in Indian Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar on Friday, after a third straight week of protests in the restive Soura district despite the imposition of tight restrictions.
Paramilitary police tried to enter Soura, which has emerged as a center of the protests, as hundreds of locals staged a protest march against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to withdraw autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir on Aug. 5.
Posters appeared overnight this week in Srinagar, the Muslim-majority region’s main city, calling for a march to the office of the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to protest against India’s decision.
This was the first such call by separatists seeking Kashmir’s secession from India. India’s move was accompanied by travel and communication restrictions in Kashmir that are still largely in place, although some landlines were restored last week.
The UNMOGIP was set up in 1949 after the first war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, a Himalayan region both countries claim in full but rule in part. The group monitors cease-fire violations along the border between the countries.
In a narrow lane of Soura, blocked like many others with rocks and sheets of metal, residents hurled stones at the paramilitary police to stop them moving into an area around the local mosque, Jinab Sahib, which had earlier been packed for Friday prayers.
The police responded with several rounds of tear gas and chili grenades but were beaten back by dozens of stone-pelting men. Some men suffered pellet injuries.
The locals said the security forces had been repeatedly trying to move into Soura, often using tear gas and pellets.
“We are neither safe at home, nor outside,” said Rouf, who declined to give his full name. He had rubbed salt into his face to counteract the effects of tear gas.
The afternoon had begun peacefully, with men and women streaming into Jinab Sahib for afternoon prayers. A cleric then raised a call for “Azadi” – Urdu for freedom – several times, and declared Kashmir’s allegiance to neighboring Pakistan.
“Long live Pakistan,” the cleric said, as worshippers roared back in approval.
US President Donald Trump plans to discuss Kashmir when he meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of a G7 meeting in France this weekend, a senior US administration official said on Thursday.
Trump, who has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan, will press Modi on how he plans to calm regional tensions after the withdrawal of Kashmir’s autonomy, and stress the need for dialogue, the official said.
Some Indian media reports on Friday said “terrorists” were trying to enter India from Afghanistan, citing unnamed government officials.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan responded on Twitter on Friday that such claims were being made to “divert attention” away from what he called human rights violations in Kashmir.
“The Indian leadership will in all probability attempt a false flag operation to divert attention,” Khan said.
Khan’s comments came a day after United Nations experts called on the Indian government to “end the crackdown on freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful protests” in Kashmir, saying it would increase regional tensions.
“The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offense,” they said in a statement.
At least 152 people have been hurt by teargas and pellets since security forces launched their crackdown, data from the Himalayan region’s two main hospitals shows.
Large swathes of Srinagar remain deserted with shops shut except for some provision stores with shutters half-down. Police vans patrolled some areas announcing a curfew and asking people to stay indoors.
On the Dal Lake, long rows of houseboats, normally packed with tourists at this time of year, floated closed and empty, as police patrolled its mirror-calm waters in boats.