S. Korea’s Joint Chiefs suggest N. Korea-Hamas link, but admit there is no definitive proof

Posted on : 2023-10-18 16:34 KST Modified on : 2023-10-18 16:34 KST
South Korean military leadership suggested that weapons from deals North Korea had made with surrounding countries may have found their way into Hamas’ hands
The IDF released this photo of weapons it had seized from Hamas on Oct. 11. One US media outlet has reported that the green weapon being pointed to by the soldier on the left is suspected of being a North Korean-made rocket grenade launcher. (courtesy of the IDF)
The IDF released this photo of weapons it had seized from Hamas on Oct. 11. One US media outlet has reported that the green weapon being pointed to by the soldier on the left is suspected of being a North Korean-made rocket grenade launcher. (courtesy of the IDF)

On Tuesday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that it believes North Korea had direct and indirect connections with Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that attacked Israel recently, in areas such as arms deals, tactical doctrine, and training. However, it added that this judgment was based on circumstantial evidence and probability, not concrete proof.

During a press briefing, a Joint Chiefs official stated that North Korea “may utilize Hamas’ method of attack in a surprise offensive against South Korea,” adding that the Joint Chiefs will systematically supplement and improve its response plan.

The official went on, “F-7, the anti-tank weapon Hamas reportedly used according to the media, is the name North Korea uses for its RPG-7 exports,” continuing, “Recently, 122 mm multiple rocket launchers estimated to have been used by armed groups proactively supporting or under the banner of Hamas were found in border areas near Israel, indicating that North Korea has been exporting various weapons to Middle Eastern countries and armed groups.”

The Joint Chiefs also claimed that North Korea and Hamas are much alike in tactical doctrine, noting that Hamas tactics like making surprise attacks early in the morning of holidays, neutralizing the Iron Dome by mass-launching rockets, and destroying the surveillance, communication, and fire control systems of the separation barrier through drone attacks and carrying out infiltrations are similar to North Korea’s asymmetrical offensive pattern projected by South Korea.

However, the Joint Chiefs was not able to provide concrete evidence regarding its claim that North Korea exported weapons and provided tactical support to Hamas.

“There is no evidence that North Korea directly exported weapons to Hamas. But there is sufficient probability that North Korea traded arms with countries neighboring Hamas, and that these North Korean weapons made their way into the hands of Hamas from these countries that are close in relation with Hamas,” said the official.

“There is no definitive evidence or intelligence that tactical doctrines were transferred to Hamas from North Korea,” the official went on. “There is a possibility that North Korean military doctrine made it into Hamas via countries in the Hamas’ vicinity that North Korea has had continued military exchanges with.”

In regard to suspicions that Pyongyang had supplied Hamas with its underground tunneling techniques, the Joint Chiefs official once again said, “While it is a possibility, there is no definitive evidence.”

By Kwon Hyuk-chul, staff reporter

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