Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on Monday accused Israel of having killed one of the group's top terrorists after he was shot dead in Gaza on Friday.
Mazen Faqha, 38, was shot dead by unknown gunmen with four bullets from a pistol equipped with a silencer.
"By killing Faqha, the enemy told us: 'I've scored a point against you and I can take away one of your heroes even in the heart of Gaza," Mashaal told supporters at a memorial on Monday, according to AFP.
"It's a new blood debt that adds itself to all those before. The conflict with the occupier (Israel) remains open," said Mashaal, who was speaking via video link from Qatar where he lives.
"The military and political leadership of Hamas is ready to meet the occupier's challenge," he declared
Hamas "is capable of continuing its mission. Our will is stronger than their weapons and we will defeat them in the end," he added.
Faqha was a senior Hamas official in Judea and Samaria who was behind many terrorist attacks against Israelis and was a senior member of the group’s so-called “military wing”.
He was originally sentenced in 2003 to nine life terms after being convicted of sending a terrorist to carry out a suicide bombing attack. He was released as part of the 2011 Shalit deal and exiled to Gaza.
Hamas authorities on Monday partially reopened the crossing between Gaza and Israel, after a one-day closure following Faqha’s death.
Hamas officials have blamed Israel for his killing and have said they believe the killers received help from inside Gaza.
Israel has not commented on the shooting.
On Monday, Gaza's attorney general Ismail Jaber placed a gag order on information relating to the "assassination".