Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed on Friday that "Hamas will pay a heavy price" for the death of a four-year-old boy who suffered fatal wounds from a barrage of mortars that struck a kibbutz not far from the border with the Gaza Strip.
The premier spoke with the head of the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council, Alon Shuster, by telephone shortly after news broke of the boy's death.
Netanyahu told Shuster that the Israeli military will intensify its actions against Hamas in the Gaza Strip "until the goals of Operation Protective Edge are achieved."
In a swipe at Netanyahu, former deputy defense minister Danny Danon said on Friday that Israel's "hesitation and moderation has led to more missiles and casualties."
"After 46 days of attrition and over 4,000 rockets, the time has come to shift direction," the Likud MK said. "Only the defeat of Hamas will bring quiet to the residents of Israel."
Earlier Friday, US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro released a statement condemning the mortar fire which killed the four-year-old boy.
"I've just heard the terrible news that a 4-year-old child was killed by a mortar strike in the south," Shapiro wrote on his Facebook page. "I condemn in the strongest terms this outrageous terrorist attack and offer condolences to the boy's family. Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself, which the United States supports."