Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Hamas fighters probably fired North Korean weapons throughout their Oct. 7 assault on Israel, a militant video and weapons seized by Israel present, regardless of Pyongyang’s denials that it arms the militant group.

South Korean officers, two specialists on North Korean arms and an Related Press evaluation of weapons captured on the battlefield by Israel level towards Hamas utilizing Pyongyang’s F-7 rocket-propelled grenade, a shoulder-fired weapon that fighters usually use towards armored automobiles.

The proof shines a lightweight on the murky world of the illicit arms shipments that sanction-battered North Korea makes use of as a strategy to fund its personal typical and nuclear weapons packages.

Rocket-propelled grenade launchers hearth a single warhead and could be rapidly reloaded, making them useful weapons for guerrilla forces in operating skirmishes with heavy automobiles. The F-7 has been documented in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, mentioned N.R. Jenzen-Jones, a weapons skilled who works because the director of the consultancy Armament Analysis Providers.

“North Korea has lengthy supported Palestinian militant teams, and North Korean arms have beforehand been documented amongst interdicted provides,” Jenzen-Jones advised the AP.

Hamas has revealed photos of their fighters with a launcher with a rocket-propelled grenade with a particular crimson stripe throughout its warhead, and different design components matching the F-7, mentioned Matt Schroeder, a senior researcher with Small Arms Survey who wrote a information to Pyongyang’s gentle weapons.

“It’s not a shock to see North Korean weapons with Hamas,” Schroeder mentioned.

The North Korean F-7 resembles the extra broadly distributed Soviet-era RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade, with a number of noticeable variations. Jenzen-Jones described the F-7 rocket-propelled grenade as “meant to supply a deadly impact towards personnel” given its form and payload, relatively than armored automobiles.

Weapons seized by the Israeli army and proven to journalists additionally included that crimson stripe and different design components matching the F-7.

In a background briefing with journalists Tuesday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Workers particularly recognized the F-7 as one of many North Korean weapons it believed Hamas used within the assault. The Israeli army declined to reply questions from the AP concerning the origin and the producer of these rocket-propelled grenades, saying the continued warfare with Hamas prevented it from responding.

North Korea’s mission to the United Nations didn’t reply to a request for remark from the AP. Nevertheless, Pyongyang final week by means of its state-run KCNA information company dismissed claims that Hamas used its weapons as “a groundless and false rumor” orchestrated by the USA.

Hamas propaganda movies and photographs beforehand have proven its fighters with North Korea’s Bulsae guided anti-tank missile. Jenzen-Jones mentioned he believed, based mostly on imagery of the weapons wielded by Hamas fighters within the Oct. 7 assault, in addition they used North Korea’s Kind 58 self-loading rifle, a variant of the Kalashnikov assault rifle.

“Many North Korean weapons have been offered by Iran to militant teams, and that is believed to be the first means by which Palestinian militants have come to own North Korean weapons,” Jenzen-Jones mentioned.

Iran additionally has modeled a few of its ballistic missiles after North Korean variants.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations didn’t reply to a request for remark. Officers in Iran lengthy have supported Hamas and have praised their assault on Israel.

In December 2009, Thai authorities grounded a North Korean cargo aircraft reportedly carrying 35 tons of typical arms, together with rockets and rocket-propelled grenades, because it made a refueling cease at a Bangkok airport. Thai officers then mentioned the weapons had been headed to Iran. The US later mentioned in 2012 the shipments interdicted by the Thais had been certain for Hamas.

North Korea additionally faces Western suspicions that it provides ammunition, artillery shells and rockets to Russia to assist of its warfare on Ukraine. The White Home mentioned final week that North Korea lately delivered greater than 1,000 containers of army gear and munitions to Russia.

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Gambrell reported from Jerusalem.

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