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April 13, 2009

In News

By Haaretz Service

Thirty American victims of Hezbollah terror attacks have filed civil action in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., against the government of North Korea.

The plaintiffs, injured by Hezbollah rockets fired into northern Israel during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, allege that North Korea aided the militant group by training senior Hezbollah leaders and by providing networks of underground storage bunkers meant to house Katyusha rocket launchers.

The suit, which names Hezbollah as a defendant, seeks more than $100 million in compensatory damages and an unspecified sum of punitive damages.

The suit claims that bunkers manufactured by North Korea – and beyond the reach of Israeli jets – supported Hezbollah’s effort to carry out missile attacks against Israeli cities in the summer of 2006.

This is the first lawsuit by Hezbollah victims against North Korea for its provision of support to the terrorist group.

In their suit, the plaintiffs cite a Congressional memorandum prepared for the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee that describes one of the North Korean built facilities as “a 25-kilometer underground tunnel that Hezbollah used to move troops.”

“Hezbollah’s underground facilities significantly improved their ability to fight the Israelis during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war,” the memorandum added.

Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, said: “North Korea has become a major player in providing support and material resources to Middle East terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah.”

“It was North Korea which trained Hezbollah’s leadership and built the underground bunkers that permitted the terrorists to evade Israeli jets during the Second Lebanese War and to continue their rocket attacks targeting civilians,” she added.

Darshan-Leitner added that, “As a facilitator of the Hezbollah rockets, North Korea is financially liable to all those Americans injured by the terrorists. The lawsuit aims to secure a measure of justice for the terror victims and teach North Korea that it cannot continue to support Hezbollah with impunity.”