President Shimon Peres on Wednesday called on the government to do more to protect the children of southern Israel, during a visit to Sderot following several days of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Between Saturday and Tuesday, more than 160 rockets and mortars fired from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave pounded southern Israel. Schools were closed in Sderot on Sunday due to the relentless bombardment.

Peres received a situation assessment briefing from regional military heads, spoke with regional community leaders, and visited a Sderot elementary school. At the request of students, the 89-year-old head of state sat with the children in a bomb shelter and spoke with them about their feelings, their fears and the problems they face living in rocket-struck Sderot.

Addressing the students, Peres said that he came “as a grandfather who feels the pain of the mothers who can’t sleep quietly at night. You should know that you are a source of strength and courage for all the people of Israel. All the children in Israel are proud of you.”

“I know how hard it is not to sleep at night, how hard it is for your mothers and how much you want to lead a normal life. The State of Israel must listen to the children in this region and protect them.”

“Hamas is solely responsible for this intolerable situation of rocket fire at Israel,” Peres reiterated following his visit to the school. He blamed those who provide the Islamist regime in the Gaza Strip with funds for the terrorism that plagues southern Israel.

“The countries of the world that in their self-righteousness transfer funds to Gaza, led by the emir of Qatar, cannot continue to do so. The world must see the reality that money in Gaza equals terror.”