A Hamas drone flying over the Gaza Strip prompted the IAF to scramble jets in the southern sector on Sunday, as the Islamist regime held a military rally to mark 27 years since its founding.
The drone, which Hamas claims was built in Gaza, carried a logo saying “Kassam Brigades,” the name of the group’s military wing. It did not cross the border into Israel.
According to a military source, the jets were prepared to deal with the threat, but returned to base after the air force saw there was no danger to Israeli air space.
During the rally, convoys paraded signs heralding the organization’s supposed military prowess through the streets of the coastal territory, including rockets mounted on trucks. Kassam Brigades members and naval commandos brandished weapons.
At the parade, a senior Hamas leader reaffirmed the Islamist movement’s commitment to Israel’s destruction.
“This illusion called Israel will be removed. It will be removed at the hands of the Kassam Brigades,” said Khalil al-Hayya, a top Hamas leader.
In recent years, some Hamas leaders have said they would accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank as part of a long-term truce but would continue to refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Abu Ubaida, the brigades’ spokesman, said another confrontation with Israel might be inevitable unless tens of thousands of homes damaged or destroyed in the Gaza Strip in this summer’s conflict are rebuilt soon.
“We will accept no less than the rebuilding of everything that was destroyed by the savage Zionist aggression,” said the masked spokesman.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the military parade was a “source of pride for all the free people of the world and a sad day for the Zionists.”
Hamas’s show of force “proves that [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu lost the battle and that Hamas has not been weakened,” he said.
Palestinians have voiced disappointment over the slow pace of reconstruction and a limited flow of building material into Gaza since international donors pledged more than $5 billion in October.
Both Israel and Egypt, which is battling Islamist terrorists in neighboring Sinai, are concerned Hamas could use such material for weaponry.
Israel has said Hamas has been test-firing rockets into the Mediterranean in recent weeks and Gaza residents have reported hearing explosions.
Reuters contributed to this report.