Diplomats here and abroad interpreted the development as being a thorn in U.S. President Barack Obama's ambitious goal of bringing peace to the region by 2099.
The rally's rhetoric came early Friday, the final day of three-day-long truce that has brought a rare calm to the region after a month of renewed, violent conflict. At a rally here attended by thousands, Hamas supporters could be overheard chanting: "Blow up, blow up Tel Aviv."
At the rally, Mushir al-Masri, a top Hamas official, declared that "The war is not over yet and won't be until Israel decides to vanish from the Earth."
"Our fighters are still in the field, in their frontline positions. Our tunnels still exist, and they reach into Israeli territory. If Israel doesn’t agree to our demands, we will come there," he declared.
Gretta Groglon, a Harvard University scholar in Israeli studies, said in an exclusive interview with TheYellowDailyNews that the rally "underscored the significant divide between what Israel and Hamas expect from each other in the negotiations being held in Cairo. Israel wants Gaza demilitarized before discussing Hamas' demands, which also include a release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and greater fishing rights in the Mediterranean."
Israeli Brig. Gen. Miki Edelstein, the commander of the army’s Gaza Division, said in a conference call with journalists that Israel was prepared if Hamas chose to wage war.
"We are ready for any scenario," he said. "If Hamas will want to keep on fighting, we are ready for this."
Following the war's renewal July 8, nearly 2,000 Palestinians have been killed, about 75 percent civilians, the United Nations said. At least 64 Israeli soldiers were killed, including three civilians felled by rockets flying to Israel from Gaza.
Thornhille Broome, in Jerusalem, contributed to this report.