Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday said that "Hamas, from our point of view, is responsible for everything that happens in the [Gaza] Strip and for all of the [terrorist] organizations that operate there."

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, he added, "we will not accept actions that harm our citizens, actions like the firing on the bus, or attempts to put three-quarter of a million citizens in bomb shelters." The defense minister was referring to an incident on Thursday when an anti-tank missile was fired at a school bus, leaving a 16-year-old in critical condition and the firing of over 120 rockets and mortar shells over the weekend.

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Hamas sustained a heavy blow, he said, adding that "fortunately, nobody was injured" by their fire. The IDF's strikes, he said, have been "very effective and precise, and they sustained a heavy blow."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday lauded the Iron Dome anti-rocket system's successes, while cautioning that it is not a complete solution to the problem of Hamas's offensive against Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, the prime minister said that "IDF had two major achievements in the past few days, one on the area of defense, the other in offensive operations.  In the area of defense, Israel scored a significant and impressive success when the Iron Dome system intercepted missiles."


He said that despite the achievement's significance, "it is clear that it is only a partial response.  It is clear that an offensive response is also needed."

Despite calls coming from both Hamas and Defense Minister Ehud Barak for a ceasefire, Netanyahu reiterated that the IDF would not tolerate attacks on Israeli citizens, and would respond fully. "If Israeli citizens continue to come under attack, the response will be much harsher," Netanyahu said. 

The prime minister's praise for the Iron Dome rocket defense system came as the United States was expected to transfer $205 million to Israel for the purchase and deployment of additional Iron Dome batteries, Army Radio cited the security establishment as saying Sunday.

Though the $205 million in funds will aid Israel to continue to deploy Iron Dome batteries, with the hopes of providing increased defense to Israel's more heavily populated civilian areas, greater funding is still required to adequately expand the defense system, which has cost an estimated $210 million thus far.

Since its inception, many top security and military officials have said that Iron Dome only distracts from necessary offensive military actions against Hamas.

The system's effectiveness , however, has led to increased demand for its utilization, and many top security officials believe that Iron Dome batteries should be deployed across the country. Currently, two batteries are deployed: one battery outside Beersheba, and the other near Ashkelon.

Iron Dome's successes can be seen in several different cases already. On Sunday, a Grad rocket fired towards Ashkelon was intercepted just outside the city. Last Friday when a Grad rocket fired from Gaza toward Beersheba was intercepted, as were four rockets that were launched towards Ashkelon. It intercepted a total of eight Grad rockets over the weekend.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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