Hamas 'tank' dismissed as harmless 'parade float' after wheels seen under structure driven through Gaza City

The vehicle was paraded through Gaza City by the Al-Qassam Brigades as they commemorated militants' deaths

Hamas has championed the unveiling of a “locally-made tank” in front of thousands of people in Gaza, but the supposed weapon has been dismissed as nothing more than a parade float after photos revealed an unusual design.

At first glance, the khaki vehicle trundling through crowds mourning the death of seven militants from the Al-Qassam Brigades appeared to be the genuine article, but a closer look revealed something very wrong.

While real tanks move on moving metal belts rotated using wheels, Hamas’ vehicle appeared to be mounted on normal tyres concealed behind fake treads.

Hamas leaders paraded the vehicle in Gaza City on Sunday evening during a commemoration ceremony aired on the group’s Al-Aqsa television station.

“The Tufah neighbourhood (in Gaza) has a long story with enemy tanks, and therefore, we are preparing ourselves for the day we shall meet those tanks,” a Hamas leader announced to the crowds, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).  

“Let the locally-produced vehicle move forward.”

Footage showed flags positioned on the top of the vehicle alongside militants wearing Hamas uniforms and guns, with the “tank’s” turret being moved from side to side, and the “gun” jolted up and down.

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A vehicle at a parade in Gaza City organised by the Al-Qassam Brigades on 31 January

Ofir Gendelman, the official spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was among the first to start the mockery on Twitter.

“Hamas paraded yesterday a “captured, rebuilt Israeli tank’,” he wrote. “FYI, tanks aren't made of wood and don't run on wheels.”

As photos of the tank were shared on Twitter, people started making jokes at Hamas’ expense:

The Al-Qassam Brigades media wing claimed tens of thousands of Palestinians massed in Gaza city for the funeral of seven militants who died when a tunnel collapsed because of heavy rain near the Israeli border.

"The Mujahedin martyrs were repairing an old tunnel, from which a number of operations were executed in the (2014) war,“ a statement said.

"The whole world will witness the deeds of their tunnels against the (Israeli) occupier should they dare (to attack) our people and our land," it added.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2007, when it seized power after a brief civil war with the rival Fatah movement. 

Its armed wing is one of several militant groups that operate in the territory, which is blockaded by Israel and Egypt, and uses tunnels to launch surprise attacks on Israeli forces.

Hamas, an Islamist organisation and political party, is not designated as a terrorist group by the UK as a whole but the Al-Qassam Brigades have been on the country’s list of proscribed organisations since 2001.

Its followers have been blamed for some of the scores of stabbing attacks launched against Israelis in a wave of violence that started in September.