At a rally Wednesday marking one year since last summer’s war in Gaza, Hamas displayed a mock-up of a dog tag belonging to slain IDF soldier Oron Shaul, alongside two other ID cards emblazoned with question marks.
In an elaborate display at the late-night march in the Gaza Strip, a massive copper fist extending out of a tank held up the three enlarged identity badges.
Shaul was killed during last summer’s operation, but his body was never recovered and is believed to be held by Hamas.
Earlier Wednesday, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said that, through a European intermediary, Israel has requested the return of the remains of Shaul, as well as the body of Hadar Goldin, who was also killed in last summer’s war. Speaking to the London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed newspaper, Mashaal said that while European officials had appealed to the group with the Israeli request, Hamas had refrained from issuing an official response.
דיסקית של החייל אורון שאול שהוצג הערב בכנס ניצחון של ארגון חמאס לרגל שנה לצוק איתן ברצועת עזה. pic.twitter.com/1QGkhnlhSi
— מבזקים ודיווחים (@S0503281) July 8, 2015
Both Shaul and Goldin were pronounced dead by the IDF based on forensic evidence. Israeli leaders have repeatedly vowed to work to retrieve their remains.
At the Gaza City event, attended by several hundred people, Hamas’s armed wing also boasted that it had produced improved, new locally made missiles.
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades members, their faces covered with black keffiyeh scarves, stood in front of what appeared to be models of two missiles about three to four meters (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.
Israel and Hamas fought a bloody 50-day war starting July 8 and lasting until late August 2014, during which some 2,200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed. Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel during last summer’s conflict, the bulk of those heading to residential areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
The sides have mostly kept to a ceasefire since, though sporadic rocket fire, mostly from smaller terror groups chafing under Hamas rule, has continued, and brought Israeli retaliatory strikes, usually against empty Hamas facilities.
Israeli officials say Hamas has carried out repeated test-firings of rockets in recent weeks, and resumed its digging of terror tunnels to the Israeli border.