North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly ordered his officials to mobilize support for Palestine amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, South Korea’s spy agency revealed last week.
Key details: National Intelligence Service Director Kim Kyou-hyun informed South Korean lawmakers during the 2023 National Assembly audit on Wednesday that Kim instructed his officials to create ways to “comprehensively support Palestine.”
Rep. Yoo Sang-bum, the executive secretary for the Assembly intelligence committee, added during the audit that North Korea could also engage in arms trades with militant groups in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
The context: Hamas launched a surprise attack against Israel by land, air and sea on Oct. 7, killing over 1,400 people, mainly civilians. Israel then launched their counterattack on Hamas in Palestine, which has killed more than 9,770 people as of Sunday, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
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What experts are saying: Oh Gyeong-seob, a senior analyst at the state-funded think tank Korea Institute for National Unification, told The Korea Times that North Korea has “long maintained a policy of strengthening the international anti-U.S. bloc” of which Palestine or Hamas is “just another partner in that effort.”
While providing troops, weapons, food or medical supplies to Palestine in the Israel-Hamas war would be helpful, Oh noted that North Korea does not have much for themselves to begin with “considering the heavy sanctions imposed” on the secluded country.
Arming the militant group: Some earlier reports alleged that North Korea helped arm Hamas for its Oct. 7 attack against Israel, an allegation Pyongyang has vehemently denied.
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Hamas fighters were purportedly seen in images carrying a launcher with a rocket-propelled grenade with a similar design to that of the North Korean-made F-7 rocket-propelled grenades. Israeli forces also seized some of those weapons following the attack, which were later shown to the media, according to the Associated Press.
Echoing their stance: Kim Song, North Korea’s ambassador to the U.N., reiterated Pyongyang’s denial of any involvement during a U.N. General Assembly session in New York on Tuesday. In his speech, Kim said the allegation was nothing more than a “smear campaign against the DPRK to forcibly link the Middle East crisis” to the secluded country.
Helping Russia: Besides the alleged support for Palestine, North Korea has purportedly kept providing support to Russia during its ongoing war with Ukraine by sending over a million artillery shells to Russia since August, Yoo said.
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North Korea has allegedly ordered its munition factories to operate at full capacity to increase its production to meet Russia’s munition demands, Yoo added.
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