Hamas military wing says it 'outsmarted' Israel's Iron Dome
The military wing of Hamas has said it 'outsmarted' Israel's advanced missile defence system during the deadliest fighting this week with Israel militants since a 2014 war.
The Al-Qassam Brigades made the announcement in an online statement on Monday after a cease-fire deal ended the two-day escalation in violence that threatened to widen into a full-blown war.
The group's masked spokesman Abu Obeida said the group had "overcome the so-called Iron Dome by adopting the tactic of firing dozens of rockets in a single burst".
"The high intensity of fire and the great destructive ability of the missiles… caused great losses and destruction to the enemy".
The group released footage of its troops preparing missiles and of multiple rockets being fired in unison.
The Iron Dome system has been in operation by the Israeli air force since 2011 and has seen frequent use in thwarting rocket attacks from Gaza.
It is designed to intercept rockets and artillery shells, with batteries made up of tracking radar, state-of-the-art fire control software and three launchers, each with 20 interceptor missiles.
Israel said its strikes were in response to Hamas and Islamic Jihad firing some 690 rockets or mortars since Saturday, with air defences intercepting 240 of them.
The escalation began Saturday with massive rocket fire from Gaza, drawing waves of Israeli retaliatory strikes, and continued throughout Sunday.
At least 25 Palestinians were killed, while four Israeli civilians were also killed. Among the Palestinian casualties were a pregnant mother and her baby.
Hamas said Egyptian mediators, along with officials from Qatar and the UN, helped reach the cease-fire deal.
The deal is believed to include a number of economic aid and development programmes in Gaza, including providing additional electricity and creating temporary jobs in a territory where unemployment has skyrocketed over 50 percent.
Gaza's economy has been ravaged by a devastating Israeli-Egyptian blockade, years of fighting with Israel and Hamas' isolation.
Israeli troops have killed at least 268 Palestinians and injured over 23,000 since weekly protests erupted in Gaza in March last year.
Protesters have demanded an end to the siege and the right for refugees to return to their homes.