Hamas terrorists and other Iran-aligned militant groups with continue to be supplied with weapons by Kim Jong-un’s North Korea following their surprise terror attack on Israel earlier this month, experts have warned.
The attacks of October 7 have prompted “intense scrutiny” of the Palestinian militant group’s links with the Hermit State, a report prepared by North Korea-focused think tank 38 North pointed out.
One senior official from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff claimed “Hamas is believed to be directly or indirectly linked to North Korea in various areas, such as the weapons trade, tactical guidance and training”, the analysis pointed out.
PyongYang rejected the accuusation that it armed Hamas as “a groundless and false rumour” and a conspiracy propagated by the US.
However, 38 North’s report, written by Samuel Ramani, continued: “North Korea’s denials also belied mounting contradictory evidence. Israel has reportedly captured a North Korean F-7 rocket-propelled grenade from Hamas’s arsenal.
“The F-7 is a shoulder-fired grenade used against armored vehicles and is another name for North Korea’s RPG-7 launcher.
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“A South Korean official alleges that North Korean Bang-122 artillery shells were found on the Israel-Gaza border and a Hamas-aligned Palestinian militant group possesses North Korean-made 122-mm multiple rocket launchers.”
Furthermore, Mr Ramani pointed out that North Korea had a “long history of supplying arms to militant non-state actors in the Middle East”
He continued: “Since the outbreak of war in the Gaza Strip, North Korean state media outlets have castigated Israel and whitewashed Hamas.
On October 10, North Korea’s party daily newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, stated that the international community believed “Israel’s constant criminal acts against the Palestinian people” caused the war, Mr Ramani pointed out.
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Ties between militants and North Korea, which go back decades, have a financial motive, Mr Ramani wrote.
He said: “During the 1980s, Hezbollah operatives arrived in North Korea for military training.
“Even though North Korea’s military assistance to Hezbollah coincided with its strengthened partnership with Iran, Pyongyang’s arms shipments were primarily motivated by its desire for hard currency.
“North Korea’s cooperation with Hezbollah stopped in the early 1990s, as Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin briefly proposed financial incentives to discourage North Korea from arming Israel’s adversaries, but likely resumed after 1993.
“After 2000, North Korean instructors arrived in Lebanon and trained Hezbollah on building underground bunkers to store arms, food, and medical facilities.”
Looking ahead, Mr Ramani concluded: “While Israel’s Gaza Strip blockade might preclude further North Korean arms deliveries to Hamas, Pyongyang will closely monitor and accrue military lessons from events in the Middle East. South Korea was alarmed by Hamas’s breaches of Israel’s border defenses and is re-evaluating its own ability to thwart a similar North Korean offensive.
“If Israel embarks on a full-scale ground invasion of the Gaza Strip and the war broadens to Lebanon, North Korea will monitor the resilience of Hamas and Hezbollah’s tunnel infrastructure.
“Regardless of the war’s outcome, North Korea’s cooperation with Iran and Syria will provide future opportunities for Iran-aligned militias to use its military technology.”
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