Hamas on Monday sought to distance itself from statements made by senior official Fathi Hamad, who last Friday called for the killing of Jews while participating in the "March of Return" protests along the Gaza border fence.
Hamad's remarks led to fierce criticism from Palestinians both in the territories and abroad, leading the organization to publish a clarification.
Ahmed Yosef, a close associate of Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh, publicly scolded Hamad for his remarks.
"The language of knives and explosive belts is not suitable for statesmen," he said. "And the talk of killing Jews using this kind of language contradicts religion and morality."
The UN envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, also condemned in the comments, writing on Twitter: "A dangerous, repugnant and inciteful statement! It must to be clearly condemned by ALL. There can be no complacency with such rhetoric. Ever! #UN #NeverAgain"
The Hamas statement Monday said that Hamad's remarks did not represent the organization's official position and policy toward Israel. The statement added that "Hamas is not against world Jewry, and not even against Judaism as a religion."
Hamad made the comments as part of a verbal attack on Israel for the killing of a Hamas operative a day earlier. Israel apologized for the shooting of the operative, who had apparently been dispatched to remove protesters from the Gaza border fence.
"Despite the Israeli apology, we will retaliate for the killing of the military activist," Hamad said in his speech to the demonstrators on Friday.
He warned that unless Israel moved to implement the understandings reached with Hamas within a week, the young people of Gaza would return to "confront" Israel - an apparent reference to rocket strikes and the incendiary balloons that have caused widespread damage in southern Israeli farmlands.
"Our patience has run out," Hamad said. "We are on the brink of an explosion, we are developing our rockets and telling the mediators: We will not keep silent about the blood of our sons and the siege placed on us."
His remarks came as a delegation of senior Egyptian intelligence officials headed by deputy intelligence chief Ayman Badia was in the Gaza Strip for discussions with the Hamas leadership as part of the agreements with Israel.
The delegation held two meetings with Hamas and other organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.