The Islamist Hamas movement on Thursday welcomed a series of deadly attacks in southern Israel earlier in the day, but declined to take responsibility for them.
"I don't think Hamas is behind these attacks, but we praise them since they were against soldiers," said Ahmed Yousef, a senior member of the organization, which has been in power in Gaza since seizing control in 2007.
No Palestinian group has yet taken responsibility for the attacks.
In response to Defense Minister Ehud Baraks claim that Gaza should be held responsible for Thursday's terror attacks, Hamas leader Salah al-Bardawil stated that his party and the Palestinian people are not afraid of Zionist threats and will not stand idly by if the enemy attacks.
Meanwhile, Hamas has called for an evacuation of the party's headquarters in Gaza, fearing an IDF military response to the terror attack.