Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Sunday that the army would use force against anybody plotting attacks against the self-proclaimed Jewish state, after troops killed three Palestinians in a West Bank raid.
"Over the weekend, our forces struck at a terrorist who had organised attacks on Israelis and was also planning attacks on innocent civilians," Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting.
"Our policy is to attack those who attack us and who are planning to attack us," his office quoted him as saying. "Both were applicable in this case."
Israeli troops entered the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank on Saturday in what the army said was an operation to capture wanted Hamas militant Hamza Abu Alheja, 20.
Clashes broke out resulting in the deaths of Abu Alheja, another militant, Mahmud Abu Zena, 19, of the radical Islamic Jihad group, and a civilian identified as Yazan Jabarin.
The Palestinians called a day of mourning and a general strike.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed offshoot of Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas's Fatah movement, issued a rare joint statement vowing revenge and accusing Abbas's Palestinian Authority of complicity in the killings through its security cooperation with Israel.
But Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner defended the operation, saying that Abu Alheja was "a ticking bomb" who took part in shooting attacks and was in "advanced stages of the preparation of further attacks".