Hamas’ North Korean Weapons and Their Effect on IDF Operations
Independent weapon experts and South Korean officials said earlier this week that Hamas possibly used North Korean-made weapons to launch its surprise assault on Israel based on video and image evidence.
While John Kirby, the US National Security Council Spokesperson, has declined to confirm reports linking North Korea with the weapons used to attack Israel, the Associated Press examined a video that also showed the terrorists using Pyongyang-made anti-tank missiles.
Research Director at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies now says these weapons are likely to make it difficult for Israeli forces to maneuver around. He claims that Hamas could use Pyongyang’s RPGs to shoot at IDF’s (Israel Defence Forces) helicopters and even blow up vehicles carrying weapons and troops.
Although Sturtzriem highlights that the North Korean weapons cannot be considered “game changers” for Hamas, their possible significance depends on the number of arms that the militant group possesses.
Meanwhile, North Korea has denied claims that its weapons were used to execute a deadly assault on Israel. At the same time, Pyongyang’s state newspaper has written a long article accusing Israel of abusing international human rights in its response to the Hamas attack.
Stutzriem says he is not surprised that the Hamas terrorists are in possession of North Korean weapons. He argues that North Korea has for decades sold arms to the Middle East countries, raising millions of dollars in revenue.
“Iran Supplied North Korean Weapons to Hamas,” Weapons Expert Says
As for how Hamas obtained Pyongyang-made weapons, Stutzriem says he suspects that Iran was responsible for the procurement of the arms. Besides Iran, the United Nations Security Council’s recent report also showed that Syria, Libya, and Egypt have been purchasing weapons from North Korea.
A few years ago, Israel reported the seizure of a North Korean cargo plane in Thailand carrying more than 30 tons of weapons, including RPGs and rockets, which were being delivered to terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas.
Defense Researcher Suggests Ways of Stopping Weapon Sales to Middle East Countries
RAND Corporation Defense Researcher Bruce Bennett says stopping North Korea from selling weapons in the Middle East is difficult. He argues that Pyongyang’s good relations with Iran make it easy for weapons to reach Middle East clients.
Bennett suggests the implementation of the US Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to help intercept weapons shipped from North Korea. Middle East countries that are willing to adopt PSI will intercept any ship, plane, or vehicle they suspect to be carrying weapons from North Korea. In 2014, the United States requested Panama, a Central American country that agreed to part of the PSI in 2006, to seize a North Korean ship delivering weapons to Cuba.