Palestinian at Gaza hospital - Reuters - March 22, 2011
A Palestinian mourns in Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, after Israeli tank fire struck a home on March 22, 2011 Photo by Reuters
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Palestinians survey the scene after IDF fire struck a home in Gaza City March 22, 2011. Photo by Reuters

Hamas threatened to retaliate on Tuesday for the Israel Defense forces attack on Gaza which killed four unarmed civilians.

"The brutal crime of today will not pass without a response by the resistance," Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan told The Associated Press. "Israel is escalating against our people and the whole world should show their responsibility to stop this escalation."

IDF military shelling aimed at Palestinian militants missed its target on Tuesday, killing three teens and their uncle and wounding 13 other family members as they played soccer in their backyard in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said.

The attack, which Israel said was a mortar strike, was launched in response to repeated rocket fire toward Israel.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad also condemned the attack and called for international protection of civilians in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli strike "demands immediate international intervention to force Israel to stop the violence and dangerous escalation against our people in the Gaza Strip," said Fayyad.

International forces should also "provide protection to unarmed civilians whom Israel is targeting through raids, shelling or the continuous unfair blockade on the Gaza Strip," he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed regret for the killing of innocent civilians and said Hamas was using civilians as human shields.

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, an IDF spokeswoman, stressed that Israel had no desire to raise tensions and hoped that Hamas also didn't have that intention. "We never operate when civilians are identified," she said in response to the incident.