According to an Israeli source, Israel’s Air Force was prepared to deal with any threat, but their jets returned to base after command realized there was no threat to Israeli territory.
By YAAKOV LAPPIN, JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
The IDF scrambled jets to the Gaza border on Sunday after Hamas flew a drone into the air during a military rally to mark 27 years since the founding of the Islamist organization.
The drone, which Hamas claims was built in Gaza, and upon which was written “Kassam Brigades,” the name of the group’s military wing, 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 threat to Israeli air space.
During the Hamas military rally, convoys paraded signs of the organization’s military prowess through the streets of the coastal territory, including long-range missiles mounted on trucks and Kassam Brigade fighters and naval commandos brandishing weapons.
At the parade, a senior Hamas leader reaffirmed the Islamist movement’s founding charter’s pledge to destroy Israel.
“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, referring to the movement’s armed wing.
In recent years, some Hamas leaders have said they would accept a Palestinian state on land Israel occupied in a 1967 war in return for a long-term truce but would continue to refuse to recognize its enemy’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 last 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, whose group is shunned by the West as a terrorist organization.
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 militants 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. Hamas has neither confirmed nor denied such tests.
During the war, Hamas long-range rockets disrupted daily life in Israel’s major cities. Most were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
Addressing a crowd of several thousand in the rain, Abu Abaida praised Iran for supplying Hamas with money and weapons. Relations with Tehran have been strained by Hamas’s hostility toward Iran’s closest regional ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Both groups signed a unity deal in April but are divided over how to administer the Gaza Strip.
View original The Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/IDF-scrambles-jets-to-Gaza-border-after-Hamas-flies-drone-384599