(LEAD) Pyongyang dismisses speculation over Hamas’ use of N. Korean weapons against Israel

North Korea on Friday dismissed speculation that the Hamas militant group used North Korean weapons for its surprise attack on Israel as "groundless," accusing the United States of cooking up a false accusation against the North.

Ri Kwang-song, a North Korean commentator on international affairs, said the U.S. is resorting to its stereotyped smear campaign against North Korea to deliberately link the recent Middle East crisis to the North.

"The U.S. administration's reptile press bodies and quasi-experts are spreading a groundless and false rumor that 'north Korea's weapons' seemed tobe used for the attack on Israel," Ri said in an article carried by North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The denial came after Radio Free Asia, a Washington-based media outlet, earlier reported on the suspected use of North Korean weapons by Hamas fighters, citing a video featuring one of the fighters holding what resembles an F-7 rocket-propelled grenade launcher manufactured in the North.

In the past, suspicions had been raised that North Korea provided weapons to Hamas. But it remains unclear whether the North directly supplied the F-7 rocket launchers to the militant group, or whether they were provided through transactions involving other countries.

Earlier this week, North Korea condemned Israel for the escalating conflict with Hamas, claiming that it is the "consequence of Israel's ceaseless criminal actions" against the people of Palestine.

Hamas launched rocket attacks on Israel during a major Jewish holiday Saturday, and Israel staged retaliatory strikes against it, leaving thousands of people killed or injured on both sides.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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