Hamas Holds Gaza Rally to Mark one Year since War

Hamas’ armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, held a rally in Gaza City late Wednesday to mark the anniversary of the war on Gaza.

Several hundred people crowded into a central Gaza City square after the traditional fast-breaking meal during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan for a rally by the Al-Qassam Brigades.

Brigades members with their faces covered with black keffiyeh scarves stood in front of what appeared to be models of two missiles about three to four metres (9 to 13 feet) in length aboard the bed of a military truck.

Fathers held their children on their shoulders and brigades members lifted their weapons in the air as spokesman Abu Obeida gave a speech, his face covered as usual in a red keffiyeh.

Abu Obeida said two new locally made missiles represented a “qualitative leap” forward, but did not provide details.

The war took a heavy toll on Gaza, killing 2,251 Palestinians, including more than 500 children. Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side, including 67 soldiers.

A UN report released last month said both sides may have committed war crimes during the conflict in and around the impoverished enclave of 1.8 million people.

Israel held a memorial on Monday for its 73 victims killed in the war, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the military offensive.

Indirect talks on shoring up the ceasefire and easing Israel’s blockade have taken place, but there have been no signs that a deal could be reached anytime soon.

The blockade, as well as a lack of financing from international donors, has been blamed for the slow pace of reconstruction in Gaza, where around 18,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged.

A split between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority led by president Mahmoud Abbas, which runs the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has worsened the situation. Reconciliation attempts have failed to heal the rift.

Meanwhile, Hamas has been challenged by Salafist extremists in Gaza claiming links to the Islamic State jihadist group and who have taken credit for recent rocket fire.

(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)

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