U.S. court finds N. Korea liable for supporting rocket attacks on Israel

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, July 23 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. court ruled Wednesday that North Korea and Iran are liable for damages for providing material support and assistance for a series of rocket attacks on Israel by the militant group Hezbollah in 2006.

Judge Royce C. Lamberth at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia delivered the verdict in a case filed in 2010 by a group of family members and surviving victims of the rocket attacks that happened from July 12 to Aug. 14, 2006.

"North Korea and Iran are liable for damages because they provided material support and assistance to terrorists who fired the rockets at Israel that caused plaintiffs' injuries," the judge said. "Accordingly, plaintiffs' motion for default judgment is hereby granted with respect to North Korea and Iran for purposes of liability."

A "special master" will be named to take care of the issue of individual damages, he said.

North Korea provided Hezbollah with a wide variety of material support and resources, including professional military and intelligence training and assistance in building a massive network of underground military installations, tunnels, bunkers, depots and storage facilities in southern Lebanon, the judge said.

"North Korea worked in concert with Iran and the Syria to provide rocket and missile components to Hezbollah. North Korea sent these rocket and missile components to Iran where they were assembled and shipped to Hezbollah in Lebanon via Syria," Lamberth said.

"These rocket and missile components were intended by North Korea and Hezbollah to be used and were in fact used by Hezbollah to carry out rocket and missile attacks against Israeli civilian targets," he said, adding that the militant group fired thousands of rockets and missiles at civilians in northern Israel.

Iran assisted Hezbollah in the same respects North Korea did, most generally by providing the funds, he said.

The judge said that the North is hostile to the U.S. and has attempted to undermine the power and influence of the U.S. and its allies. In order to accomplish the goal, the North has previously supported "communist and other anti-Western terrorist organizations" that are not only opposed to the U.S., but also to Israel, he said.

"Consequently, North Korea has directly supported terrorist organizations that have carried out attacks in Israel," the judge said.

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