Israel holds Hamas responsible for recent attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip and will make the terror group face the consequences, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday.

Speaking at an IAF flight course graduation ceremony, Netanyahu praised the retaliatory actions of the air force, which, he said, showed that Israel “will not hesitate to strike those who threaten to damage our existence.” The prime minister promised to “act strongly,” including using preemptive methods, against “any attack” against Israel.

“Israel holds Hamas responsible” for the recent surge in attacks against Israel, he added, promising to “cripple” those who fire on Israel and “those who sponsor them.”

The prime minister’s remarks came amid heightened tensions between Israel and the Palestinians following a string of attacks against Israeli civilians, police officers and soldiers, and Israeli retaliatory strikes against Gaza.

On Thursday, it was revealed that security forces had earlier this month arrested a Gaza man, in Israel on a permit to seek medical help, on suspicion that he planned to carry out a terror attack upon his return to the Strip.

Late Wednesday night, a Kassam rocket was fired from Gaza and slammed into an open area near Ashkelon. There were no injuries and no damage, officials said.

The rocket attack came hours after the IDF deployed an Iron Dome missile interception battery to the area near the southern cities of Beersheba and Sderot. On Thursday a battery was positioned near Ashdod.

On Tuesday, a Defense Ministry civilian worker was killed by sniper fire from the Gaza Strip, prompting retaliatory attacks by the Israeli Air Force that killed a Palestinian toddler and her father.

In a string of attacks and attempted attacks Monday, a rocket fired from Gaza landed next to a children’s bus stop in the Ashkelon area, a bus bombing was narrowly averted in Bat Yam, and a police officer was stabbed and seriously wounded in the West Bank.

In the wake of the violence, the IDF closed the Kerem Shalom border crossing with the Gaza Strip to all commercial traffic. In spite of the heightened readiness on the border with Gaza and the deployment of Iron Dome, sources in the IDF said they were expecting a deescalation by Hamas.