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Hamas unveils rocket statue in Gaza City

10 March 2014, 20:23

Gaza City - Hamas unveiled a rocket-shaped statue on Monday showcasing its capacity to strike arch-enemy Israel, as the Jewish state boasted its own haul of captured weapons it claims were bound 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 Ezzedine 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 honour of Qassam Brigades founding member Ibrahim al-Maqadma - who was assassinated by Israel in 2003 - and alluding to its range of 75km.

M75 rockets fired from Gaza during the last major war with Israel in November 2012 struck areas around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, almost 70km 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 claims to have captured on its way from Iran to Gaza.

Israel's military 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-calibre rounds.

Israeli 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 flatly denied any involvement with the shipment, but Netanyahu accused the Islamic republic of "brazenly lying".

Israel says the captured M-302 rockets have a range of 160km, and could therefore strike anywhere inside Israel if fired from Gaza.

A Hamas official at the Gaza City ceremony told AFP, on condition of anonymity, that in any future confrontation with the Jewish state, cities in the far north would be targeted.



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