Hamas supporters gave the movement the strongest boost to its morale since its forces seized control of the Gaza Strip six months ago, with 300,000 taking to the streets to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the movement.
Despite growing hardship in the Gaza Strip since the takeover, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh vowed in speeches not to compromise the movement's hardline views against Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Western-backed government rules over the West Bank.
Since Hamas wrested control from Abbas' Fatah forces, Gaza's 1.5 million residents have been virtually cut off from the outside world, with Israel and Egypt refusing to fully reopen crossings with the coastal territory.
Unemployment has risen to about 50 percent, forcing poverty up to 75 percent, Palestinian officials say.
"The message from you today is that Hamas and these masses will not yield before the sanctions," Haniyeh told the cheering onlookers who waved green Islamic flags at the rally in Gaza City.
"To you, we come Haniyeh," the crowd shouted in response.
Haniyeh criticized the renewal of peace talks between Israel and Abbas' administration in the US last month, warning that they would not bring about a cessation of Israeli settlement construction on disputed land or yield any other Israeli concessions.
"As for the fruits of the other track, the track of negotiations, normalization and bargaining, all can see that it is the consolidating of settlements ... injustice and oppression for the Palestinian people," Haniyeh said. "It is bitter fruits."
The Hamas leader warned Abbas against conceding in peace talks on the Palestinian demand that refugees who fled past wars with Israel and their descendants be allowed to return to their homes.
Their fate is a key sticking point in the talks that are meant to iron out a final peace agreement.
"There is no such thing as a just solution to the right of return," Haniyeh said. "It is the right of every refugee ... to return to the land."
The throngs of Hamas supporters gathered in a sandy lot and nearby streets.
The numbers of supporters appeared several thousand greater than the backers of Hamas' rival, Fatah, who gathered on the same spot last month.
That rally drew 250,000 and was seen as a major challenge to Hamas.
"This is the real referendum on the popularity of resistance, the people converging behind Hamas," said Zayed Herzallah, a 28-year old merchant, who brought a van full of young relatives. "Hamas today, after 20 years and after thousands of martyrs, is graduating the fourth generation [of supporters]."
At the site of the rally, large pictures of Hamas leaders, both in Gaza and in exile, were draped across the speakers' podium. A black banner hanging from a nearby building read, in Arabic, English and French: "We will not recognize Israel."
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