Hundreds of gunmen from the shadowy Army of Islam marched in a funeral for five Gaza gunmen Thursday, firing in the air in their first ever public appearance in such large numbers.
The five Army of Islam members buried Thursday were among a total of 11 Palestinians killed in IAF strikes over two days. The IDF said it has targeted gunmen involved in rocket fire on Israeli border towns.
The Army of Islam, an offshot of Gaza's ruling Hamas group, has been linked to the March kidnapping of BBC journalist Alan Johnston, since released, and the June 2006 capture of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Individual members have made public statements, but the size of the group was never apparent.
However, some 300 Army of Islam gunmen marched in Thursday's funeral procession for five members killed in an Israeli airstrike. Sporting long beards and black headbands, many wore dark robes, a style of dress more common in Afghanistan or Pakistan than in Gaza. Gunmen, some wearing masks, fired in the air from Kalashnikov and M-16 assault rifles.