Hamas thanks N. Korea for its support against ‘Israeli occupation’

In widening war of words initiated by Defense Minister Liberman, Palestinian terror group sides with Pyongyang

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri (AP/Hatem Moussa)
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri (AP/Hatem Moussa)

Hamas on Sunday thanked North Korea for its support of the Palestinian cause, saying that Israel was “the leader of evil and terrorism in the world.”

Hamas and North Korea came together after Pyongyang launched a scathing attack on Israel and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, after Liberman had insulted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“Hamas appreciates North Korea statement in which it supported the Palestinian’s struggle and rejected the continuation of occupation,” the terror group’s spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri wrote on his Twitter page.

“Hamas (rejects) Israeli abuse of North Korea and confirms that Israel is the leader of evil and terrorism in the world.”

On Saturday North Korea condemned Israel for its nuclear policy and accused the Jewish state of abusing the rights of Arabs across the Middle East.

In an official foreign ministry statement Pyongyang threatened to punish Israel and accused Liberman of “rash and malicious” statements that insulted its leadership, after he last week criticized the Asian nation and called its leadership “extremist and insane.”

“Israel is the only illegal possessor of nuclear weapons that enjoys the support of the United States, but Israel is attacking North Korea for possessing nuclear weapons,” the statement read, going on to claim this was a cynical move intended to distract from Israeli “occupation” and “crimes against humanity.”

“Our consistent message is to mercilessly punish those who offend the dignity of our leadership,” the statement said. “We warn Israel to think twice about the implications of its defamation campaign against us.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on April 24, 2017 (Flash90)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on April 24, 2017 (Flash90)

On Thursday Liberman said Pyongyang “seems to have crossed the red line with its recent nuclear tests,” adding that its nuclear weapons program posed more of a threat to world order than Iran or any terrorist group.

“We’re just ahead of a new era of accurate missile and unconventional weapons in the hands irrational people,” Liberman said.

In an interview with the Walla News website earlier in the week, furthermore, Liberman referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “the madman from North Korea.” He said Pyongyang was allied with Syria, Iran and Hezbollah — all part of “an axis of evil” led by “an extremist and insane group” whose single purpose was to “destabilize the entire world.”

Liberman’s comment drew condemnation from fellow ministers who said he was pushing Israel into a war of words with North Korea, Israel Radio reported Friday.

The radio station did not name the top cabinet members, who said Liberman should speak less and focus more on maintaining national security.

“We have nothing to do with North Korea, so why jump up?” one incensed minister reportedly said. “Don’t we have enough enemies?”

The unexpected diplomatic row with North Korea sparked criticism of Liberman by other Israeli politicians as well.

MK Shelly Yachimovich of the Zionist Union remarked on Twitter: “We have enough enemies. Let’s focus on them.”

The US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson on Saturday kicked off a joint drill with the South Korean navy, officials said, as tensions rose over North Korea’s latest test-fire of a ballistic missile.

The drill came hours after the North launched a ballistic missile in apparent defiance of a concerted US push for tougher international sanctions to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

AFP contributed to this report.

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