Of all the strategies thought up by Hamas, this was perhaps the least expected. In an apparent publicity drive in Gaza yesterday, the Palestinian Islamist movement handed out copies of a glossy magazine showing off gunmen from its armed wing.
On the shiny green cover was a black-masked fighter, wearing camouflage fatigues and a belt of bullets and carrying an assault rifle. The magazine Qassamis, which takes its name from the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, was marking 20 years since the movement first emerged.
Inside were adverts, pictures of fighters and a women’s section, with pages decorated with lilies and hand grenades alongside photos of women wearing full-length military khaki robes during weapons training. Amid the images were boasts about the group’s strength. "It has more than 10,000 fighters with weapons who are a real army under military formations," the magazine said.
The 80-page magazine was handed out free to news agencies and libraries in Gaza to "educate Palestinians", Abdul Latif Qanou, a Hamas official involved in its production, told the Associated Press.
For the first time in more than three years, Hamas claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing inside Israel last week. Israeli officials say they are "at war" with the movement and took dozens of foreign diplomats down to the Gaza border yesterday to argue their case.