Alleged North Korean Arms in Hamas' Attack on Israel: Alarming Implications

This Photo taken on Oct. 11, 2023 shows a building damaged in rocket attacks from Gaza, in Ashkelon, Israel. Photo: Ilan Assayag/JINI via Xinhua

On October 7, Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Hamas), a Palestinian Islamic organization, attacked Israel's Gaza Strip. The attack surprised Israel and killed around 1,200 Israelis and some people taken hostage by Hamas. Unsurprisingly, Hamas would attack Israel as there seems to be long hostility between Palestine and Israel and the continuing oppression of Palestinians living in Israel's territory. After the Israeli state was established on May 15, 1948, many conflicts occurred between Arab states and Israel. In January 1949, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria launched an attack against Israel. On June 5, 1967, the war erupted again between Israel and Arab countries, resulting in Israel's expansion into the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula, most of the territories known as the historic territory of Palestine. In addition, there has been a report of growing repression of Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

However, it is a surprise as it was not expected that Hamas would be able to launch a full-scale attack on Israel. This is the first largest attack by Hamas after the organization was founded in 1987. On the 7th, this Islamic organization shelled around 2,000 rockets on Israel, destroying Israel's sensors and security. The military technologies used by Hamas are deemed more sophisticated and lethal than before, as some missile attacks could not be intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome, the world's most advanced air defence system.

One speculation is that Hamas has been spending time to modernize its military capabilities. There has been speculation that Iran is providing support to Hamas. However, it is even more suspicious that North Korea is also involved. North Korea has long offered weapons to Hamas. In 2009, Thai authorities captured 35 tonnes of North Korea's arms, including rockets and rocket-propelled grenades, which were exported to Iran via Thailand. However, the Israeli Foreign Minister later revealed that the weapons were exported for Hamas. Other analyses speculated that Hamas probably received weapons from North Korea, which smuggled from Iran to Sudan and the Gaza Strip. In 2014, a report claimed that there had been an arms deal agreement between Hamas and Israel, mainly on missile and communication equipment. Coincidentally, before the 7th, Kim Jong-un also instructed North Korea's arms factories to increase production. North Korea has been accused of aiming to export arms to foreign countries, including Russia, Myanmar, and Palestine Islamic Organization in Palestine.

North Korea's continuing smuggling of arms should be a serious concern for countries in the region, particularly Southeast Asia, as it helps to strengthen the capabilities of terrorist organizations and aggressive states.

 This should be a concern for Southeast Asian countries as well. If North Korea continues exporting arms to foreign countries, including Myanmar, it could underpin ASEAN's effort to solve the Myanmar crisis. In addition, Hamas's attack on Israel, using North Korea's armament, also killed some people from countries in Southeast Asia, including Cambodia and Thailand. While one Cambodian was killed, around 20 Thais were dead.

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