GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Sweat streamed through the beards of three men clutching the body of Jamal Dalu, 7, as they raced through the streets toward his final resting place here amid bursts from assault rifles fired into the air and shouts of ‘‘God is great.’’
They occasionally bent to kiss the boy’s bare and bloodied head or shrouded feet. But they had to jog to stay ahead of the body of his father on a grand wooden pallet, and thousands who thronged on all sides.
There were few if any visible tears at the intense, chaotic, lengthy funeral Monday of Jamal and seven relatives, among 12 people killed the day before in the single deadliest attack since the latest hostilities between Israel and the Gaza Strip began Wednesday.
Instead, there were fingers jabbing the air to signal ‘‘Allah is the only one,’’ defiant chants about resistance and calls for revenge, flags in the signature green of Hamas and the white of its Al Qassam Brigades.
At the destroyed Dalu family home, a man climbed atop the pile of rubble where a dozen photographers had positioned themselves and hoisted the body of one of the four slain children into the air several times, as though a totem.
At the mosque, the eulogy was disrupted by the launching of a missile bound for Israel. And at the cemetery, a Qassam commander addressed not the mourners but to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, warning, ‘‘We still have so much in our pockets, and we will show you if we have to.’’
Much of the militant pageantry was probably meant as a message for the news media, and thus the world, given how the Dalus had instantly become the face of the Palestinian casualty count.
But the tone, far more fundamentalist than funereal, was also a potent sign of the culture of martyrdom that pervades this place, and the numbness many here have developed to death and destruction after years of cross-border conflict. “This blood which was provided by your family will not go in vain,’’ a Hamas minister told the mourners at the mosque. ‘‘The rights of these children, the rights of these little flowers, is on our neck.’’
Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich, an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman, said it was still looking into the Sunday strike on the Dalu home, which she called an accident.