Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, held an extensive military exercise on the ruins of two former Israeli villages- Dugit and Nissanit - in Gaza, during the wee hours of Thursday morning, Channel 10 News reported.
These villages were evacuated during the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005. The terrorist organization Hamas quickly took over the coastal enclave.
The exercise started around midnight and continued until dawn. The number of al-Qassam troops who participated was much larger than usual, leading to speculation that this was the largest military exercise conducted by Hamas since Operation Protective Edge.
This is also the first time Hamas conducted an exercise of this magnitude during early morning hours.
Residents of Israeli communities north of Gaza heard explosions and heavy machine gunfire throughout the night.
In the past few months, since the end of Operation Protective Edge, various incidents have occurred indicating Hamas' attempt to rebuild and regain military strength.
Among other things, the Israeli Defense Forces have reported multiple test rocket launchings conducted by Hamas, in which rockets are shot out into the Mediterranean Sea.
The IDF estimated that Hamas are "experimenting in order to increase rocket launching capabilities."
At the end of Operation Protective Edge, IDF officials claimed that Hamas retained only a third of its volume of fire, thanks to multiple launches into Israel, as well as military activity performed by air and ground forces.
Moreover, the Egyptian army's destruction of tunnels along the Philadelphi Route severely affected Hamas' ability to smuggle weapons into Gaza.
Despite these setbacks, Hamas has been giving off an air of strength, quite likely as a signal or warning to Israel.
Earlier this week, a military parade was held in Gaza City marking the occasion of Hamas 27th anniversary. The parade was attended by various branches of the al-Qassam brigade, including the rocket unit and naval commandoes, who carried different weapons, like rockets, missiles, and drones.
Members of the brigade also dressed up as Israeli soldiers, wearing masks with the faces of late soldier, Shaul Oron hy"d, and Gilad Shalit on them.
Hamas also released a propaganda video featuring the voice of wanted terrorist, Muhammad Deif. Deif, the Chief Commander of the brigade, has allegedly survived five Israeli airstrikes, the most recent during Operation Protective Edge.
The video, clearly meant to be a threat to the Jewish State, contains a montage of Hamas' "successes" over the years in its struggle with Israel.