'Netanyahu Is a Stinking Zionist': Israel Responds to Insult From Unverified Account of 'North Korean FM'

The North Korean account, whose authenticity Haaretz could not confirm, responded to a video published by the Israeli premier on Twitter offering Iran water tech

North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, 2016.
\ Jorge Silva/ REUTERS

Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman responded on Monday to an insult tweeted by an account claiming to belong to the North Korean foreign minister.

In a tweet, Ri Yong-Ho called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "Stinking Zionist," blasting the premier for killing the people of Gaza. The tweets by the minister were made from an unverified account, and Haaretz could not independently confirm its authenticity. 

The statement was made in response to a video published on Netanyahu's account on Sunday. 

Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon responded to the North Korean tweet: "On the bright side- you follow us on Twitter and react. On the negative side- you insult us with no reason."

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

The Twitter account does not have a verified icon, and has only 2,000 followers. A senior expert on North Korea told Haaretz he is not familiar with the account. Furthermore, renowned research organizations specializing in North Korea are not among the followers.

>> A successful Trump-Kim summit could be the prelude to war with Iran | Analysis

In the video, Netanyahu takes a sip from a glass of water before alerting that Iran is facing a drought. He then accuses the regime led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei of using the country's resources for malign purposes and of neglecting its people.

In the response, a tweet in the account claiming to belong to Yong-Ho dismissed Netanyahu as a "criminal/liar" who wouldn't deliver on his promise. "Meanwhile he can't be bothered giving water to Gaza; he kills them instead."

The Twitter exchange was made as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea were preparing for a summit Tuesday in Singapore aimed at getting Kim to give up his nuclear weapons. 

This is not the first time Israel and North Korea have traded rhetorical barbs. In 2017, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in an interview to the Walla! news site that the country's sole goal was "undermining global stability," and called its leadership "a crazy and radical group."

In response, a statement released by the North Korean Foreign Ministry called Avigdor Lieberman's statement "reckless" and a form of "sordid and wicked behavior" that posed a "grave challenge to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea."

In January 2015, North Korea fumed at Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the so-called DPRK of "enforcing merciless and radical dictatorship," while on a visit to Japan. Calling Netanyahu's remarks "an unpardonable insult," North Korea charged at the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

North Korea has also criticized Israel on other occasions, charging at its settlements in the West Bank, its conduct during the 2014 war in Gaza and at alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria.

North Korea is considered one of the world's most hostile nations toward Israel. In the last decades, it has provided training, arms and various technologies to entities considered enemies of the Jewish state, including Iran, whose missile program benefitted greatly from North Korean assistance.