Hamas unveiled a rocket-shaped statue Monday showcasing its capacity to strike Israel, as the Jewish state displayed its own haul of captured weapons it said were shipped by Iran and intended for Gaza.
“Hamas managed to take the battle to the heart of the Zionist entity (Israel) after developing its rocket system, succeeding where many Arab armies had failed,” said a leader of Hamas armed wing the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, flanked by masked fighters at the statue’s unveiling.
The monument in Gaza City features a life-size model of a large M75 rocket, named in honor of Qassam Brigades founding member Ibrahim al-Maqadma — who was assassinated by Israel in 2003 — and alluding to its range of 75 kilometers.
M75 rockets fired from Gaza during the last major confrontation with Israel in November 2012 struck areas around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, almost 70 kilometers (40 miles) away.
The unveiling of the black-and-red rocket that points skywards on a stone pedestal came as Israel was showcasing a shipment of arms it intercepted on its way from Iran to Gaza.
The navy says it found 40 long-range M-302 rockets aboard the Panamanian-flagged Klos-C it intercepted in the Red Sea last week, as well as 181 122mm mortar shells and approximately 400,000 7.62-caliber rounds.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the seizure of the ship not only foiled the delivery of lethal weapons to Gaza but served to “expose the true face of Iran, which was behind it.”
Iran has denied any involvement with the shipment, but Netanyahu said the Islamic republic was “brazenly lying.”
Israel says the captured M-302 rockets have a range of 100 miles (160 kilometers), and could therefore strike anywhere inside Israel if fired from Gaza.
Israeli officials believe the shipment, captured aboard the Klos-C cargo vessel off the coast of Sudan last Wednesday, was intended for Islamic Jihad, a rival Islamist group in Hamas-run Gaza that is funded by and loyal to Iran.
A Hamas official at the Gaza City ceremony told AFP that in any future confrontation with the Jewish state, cities in the far north would be targeted.