Hamas shows off refreshed rocket arsenal


Hamas celebrated its 27th anniversary on Sunday with a military parade in Gaza in which it exhibited rockets and Iranian-built drones.

In recent weeks, the Islamist movement has resumed test launches of missiles designed to be fired at civilian targets in Israel.

According to Palestinian sources, there were doubts within the Hamas leadership whether to have the parade due to the fact that thousands of civilians in the Gaza Strip are still homeless after last summer's violence.

But the movement eventually decided to hold the event, showing - in the words of terror organisation's military wing - how "Hamas has stopped the aspirations of the Zionist entity and, thanks to Hamas, it is now on the brink of collapse and disappearance".

It went on: "Our weapons will not be laid down until we use them to enter Al Aksa Mosque".

Among the masked Hamas fighters taking part in the parade were rocket specialists and frogmen. For the first time, Hamas also exhibited drones smuggled into Gaza from Iran.

One of those, the Ababil UAV, can reportedly carry surveillance cameras and explosives, and can be adapted to crash into targets.

A drone was flown over the parade, and Israeli jets were scrambled in case it crossed the border into Israel.

Israeli intelligence has calculated that over 60 per cent of Hamas's rocket arsenal was destroyed during the fighting, but the movement has been working to replenish its weapons stockpile.

Some of these new rockets were fired into the Mediterranean this week in test launches.

Reconstruction efforts in Gaza have begun as part of an agreement between Israel, the UN and the PA, and building materials are entering Gaza daily through crossings from Israel.

However, Egypt has intensified its operation against smuggling tunnels on its border with Gaza, bringing the traffic of goods through Rafah to a near-complete standstill.

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