Hamas fires North Korean-supplied rockets and Bulsae antitank missiles

According to an article by Kang Hyun-kyung in The Korea Times, South Korea's Defense authorities have taken a keen interest in the Middle East conflict due to suspicions that some of the weapons employed by Hamas may have originated from North Korea.
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Old BMD-20 200mm multiple rocket launchers of the North Korean Army, as supplied to Hamas in 2014 (Picture source: Militarnyi/mil.in.ua)

Bruce Bechtol Jr., a former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency officer who currently serves as a political science professor at Angelo State University in Texas, shared insights on this matter during a phone interview with The Korea Times. He stated: "It appears that at least some of the rockets and launchers used by Hamas were supplied by North Korea in 2014."

Bechtol Jr. was referring to a 2014 report by the British newspaper The Telegraph, which revealed a clandestine arms agreement between North Korea and Hamas. This secretive deal, valued at several hundred thousand dollars, involved the sale of rockets and communication equipment. Bechtol Jr. emphasized that the weaponry employed by Hamas against Israel was not highly advanced, consisting of relatively basic 107mm and 122mm Katyusha rockets—weapons similar to those possessed by North Korea.

Furthermore, Bechtol Jr. raised concerns about the possibility of Israel facing additional challenges if Hamas were to deploy its reportedly acquired anti-tank systems from North Korea. He expressed his apprehension, stating, "What troubles me are the reports suggesting that North Korea has also provided Hamas with 'Bulsae' anti-tank systems and aided in the construction of tunnels beneath the Israeli border."

The Bulsae-2 anti-tank-guided missile is a North Korean development, derived from the Soviet Union's Fagot system. It is noteworthy that the Soviet Union had supplied Fagot anti-tank-guided weaponry to North Korea since the late 1970s and even facilitated local production of these arms within North Korea.

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North Korean-made Bulsae-2 ATGM operated by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza (Picture source: Twitter account of Oryx)

Defense News October 2023