Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Nitsana Darshan-LeitnerShurat HaDin

Legal rights group Shurat HaDin has won a landmark legal victory this past week, in a lawsuit filed in the US against Hezbollah, North Korea, and Iran. 

Shurat HaDin, which specializes in claims against international terrorist organizations and their sponsors, secured a victory for Israel last week, in which a US court found North Korea and Iran liable for damages caused to Israel by a series of rocket attacks on Israel from Lebanon in 2006. 

The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed in 2009 by Shurat HaDin in the name of Chaim Kaplan, and on behalf of the survivors and families of victims hit by Hezbollah's rockets. 

"The two countries have provided material support and assistance to terrorists from Hezbollah, which fired rockets at Israel," concluded U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth.

The court will now appoint an expert specially designated for the task of determining the amount of financial compensation to be paid to victims of the rocket fire. 

The judge declared that North Korea has provided critical assistance to Hezbollah in building an extensive network of tunnels near the Israeli border, and focused heavily on its role in Hezbollah terror against Israel.

"The models and parameters of these tunnels bear a very close resemblance to a network of tunnels in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas," the judge wrote in his ruling. 

That statement echoes reports on Saturday that North Korea had provided crucial support to Hamas in constructing its vast network of "terror tunnels" from Gaza into Israel. Hamas has also reportedly signed a deal with the authoritarian state to help it replenish its depleted rocket arsenal after an exhausting battle with Israel over the past few weeks.

Pyongyang has a long history of supporting Islamist and other anti-western terrorist groups in the Middle East and elsewhere, and Iran has traditionally been the primary backer of both the Shia Islamist Hezbollah and Sunni Islamist Hamas - although recent years have seen a distinct cooling of relations between Tehran and Hamas.

In a decision spanning 18 pages, Judge Lamberth argued "there is no doubt that North Korea and Iran provided material support to Hezbollah." 

"North Korea has supplied Hezbollah with advanced weaponry, professional advice and assistance in building, concealing these weapons in underground bunkers, and training in use of weapons and bunkers to allow rocket terror on the civilian population in Israel," Lamberth wrote. "Iran helped with finance, North Korea helped with aid and providing more accurate weapons to Hezbollah."

"North Korea has supplied Hezbollah with a wide range of support materials and resources, including professional military knowledge, training, intelligence and assistance in building a massive network of military facilities, tunnels, bunkers, underground warehouses and storage facilities in southern Lebanon," the judge continued.  

"North Korea has acted in coordination with Iran and Syria to provide components of missiles and rockets to Hezbollah," he declared. "North Korea sent components of rockets and missiles to Iran, which were collected and sent to Hezbollah in Lebanon via Syria."

"Components of rockets and missiles are intended for use by Hezbollah to carry out rockets and missiles against civilian targets in Israel," he added. 

Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who heads Shurat HaDin, noted the ruling's relevant timing.

"Today, as Israel is again under rocket attack by Islamist extremists - this time in the south - the judgment of the District Court Administration we received shows that the wheels of justice eventually turn and locate the offenders, and that the responsibility indeed lies with them," Darshan-Leitner stated. "We continue to work to ensure that terrorism and financial patrons will not be able to evade the rule of law and civil claims for criminal actions."

"This historic decision now states that both North Korea and Iran provided material support to Hezbollah - including missiles, training, and funding - to carry out deadly terrorist attacks against Israel in 2006," she continued. "We are convinced that the court eventually will rule on the compensation of millions of dollars in compensation for the victims, whose lives were destroyed due to the Hezbollah attacks."