Foreign Ministry responds to vitriol tweeted by fake North Korean account
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Foreign Ministry responds to vitriol tweeted by fake North Korean account

Handle claiming to represent Pyongyang's foreign minister accuses Netanyahu of being a 'stinking Zionist warmonger'; Jerusalem hits back, apparently unaware the tweets are fake

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Emanuel Nachshon, September 1, 2014. Yonatan (Sindel/Flash90)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Emanuel Nachshon, September 1, 2014. Yonatan (Sindel/Flash90)

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman responded Monday to an apparently fraudulent Twitter account bearing the name of North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, after it lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a tweet, the unverified account — which focuses on vilifying Israel and the Jews, often using very vulgar turns of phrase unlikely to be employed by a 61-year-old North Korean diplomat — called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “stinking Zionist” and a “criminal” in reference to a video in which the premier offered water to drought-struck Iran.

The tweet also accused Israel of “working overtime” to sabotage a landmark summit set for Tuesday between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, adding that Netanyahu “hates” North Korea.

Sharing Netanyahu’s video to the people of Iran on Twitter, the tweet said: “Stinking Zionist Netanyahu offers water to Iran; he’s a criminal/liar so wouldn’t deliver.”

In this April 10, 2018, file photo, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, during their meeting in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

Adding criticism of Israel’s response to a series of protests and attacks on the Gaza Strip’s border in recent months, the account said that Netanyahu “can’t be bothered giving water to Gaza; he kills them instead.”

The exchange came as Kim was in Singapore, preparing for the summit with Trump — a surprising development coming after months of the two leaders trading colorful insults and grave threats.

In another tweet, the account bearing Ri’s name said his country was preparing the Trump-Kim summit, “but [we] can’t fail to note stinking Zionist warmonger Netanyahu in Europe seeking to isolate Iran.”

“Israel also working overtime to make the Singapore Summit fail; he hates DPRK,” it added, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon responded with apparent humor, expressing satisfaction that the ostensible North Korean minister was following Israeli officials’ Twitter accounts.

He also accused the minister of insulting Israel without cause.

“Israel is a peace seeking nation, defending itself against a brutal and hate filled Iranian regime seeking our destruction,” he insisted.

The Ynet news site reported that Israel had treated the account as authentic after Singapore contacted Israeli authorities, asking if it was true that Jerusalem had been acting to hamper the Trump-Kim summit.

Asked why it chose to respond to the criticism, apparently without having first tried to establish whether the account was genuine, the Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

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