Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded Thursday evening to a series of deadly terror attacks that left eight dead and dozens wounded in southern Israel, saying Israel will respond firmly when Israeli lives are hurt.
In a press conference to the Israeli public, Netanyahu stated that the Israeli public has witnessed an attempt to upgrade terror attacks from Sinai, and thanked the Shin Bet as well as the Israel Defense Forces for wiping out the leaders of the organization behind the attacks in the Gaza Strip and preventing an even bigger catastrophe.
Netanyahu also sent his condolences to the grieving families and hoped for a speedy recovery for the wounded.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) stated that the attacks require an Israeli response, and that Kadima will support the government's actions.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that the source of combined terrorist attacks that took place earlier in the day was the Gaza Strip.
"This is a serious terror attack that took place in several locations," Barak said during a situation assessment following the terrorist attacks. "The incident shows the weakening Egyptian grip on Sinai and the widening operation of terrorists there. The source of these terror acts is in Gaza and we will act against them with full force."
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz arrived at the Division Headquarters earlier on Thursday and conducted an initial situation assessment. Shortly afterward, Barak and the Police Chief Yohanan Danino left for the scene of the attacks.
Since Friday, Egyptian military and police forces have been deployed in the Sinai Peninsula in an attempt to restore central government control and track down those behind attacks on police stations and on a pipeline transporting gas to Israel.
Meanwhile, Egypt's South Sinai governor Khaled Fouda denied on Thursday reports that gunmen had opened fire on Israeli vehicles from Sinai in which several people were killed, state television said.
"The South Sinai governor denied there was any gunfire from Taba towards Eilat port," state television reported, referring to the Egyptian Red Sea resort across the border from the Israeli port city of Eilat.
In response to Barak, Hamas leader Salah al-Bardawil stated Thursday that his party and the Palestinian people are not afraid of Zionist threats and will not stand idly by if the enemy attacks.
Al-Bardawil further stated that Hamas relies on a strategy of resisting "the occupation of Palestinian lands from within, rather than from outside".