As Israel prepares for a possible military action in Gaza, residents of Ashdod and Beersheva have been told to not to conduct public gatherings of more than 500 people, while residents of Gaza border communities have been told to remain within 15 seconds of protected areas, in order to take cover in the event the Red Alert missile warning system goes off.
In addition, the Homefront Command ordered that bomb shelters in towns and cities within 40 kilometers of the Gaza border be cleaned out and prepared for use. This is the first time such orders have been given since 2011's Pillar of Defense operation against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
Dozens of rockets fell in Israel throughout the day Monday, and the Red Alert missile warning system sounded throughout the day in southern Israel. One building was reported damaged in the barrages.
On Monday, the security cabinet authorized the IDF to increase its military pressure on Hamas. The IDF intends to add more troops to the brigades it already has poised on the borders of Gaza, officials said. So far an additional 1,500 reserve troops have been called up, to free up regular soldiers in case of need.
Sources at the meeting said that regardless of Israel's actions, it was possible that Hamas would expand the range of attacks against Israel. Officials at the meeting were said to discuss the possibility that Tel Aviv and other cities in central Israel could come under attack as well.
In a statement Monday, a Hamas spokesperson said that “we have made it clear that we do not seek to increase tensions. But if Israel wants a cease fire, it must release the terrorists it jailed that had previously been released in the Shalit deal, and stop its criminal activities in the West Bank.”
On Monday, the IDF said that it targeted several terror smuggling tunnels in southern Gaza. The action, the army said, prevented “a steady stream of terrorists into Israel. We recently found a significant terror tunnel leading out of Gaza, which we are gathering intelligence about to prevent further terror attacks and to prevent [the tunnel] from being used [again]," an IDF official said. "We are also investing significantly in gathering our security forces," he added. "Until now we have had two full staffs working on the situation and we are readying ourselves for escalation [with Hamas]."
Overnight Sunday, the IAF launched airstrikes against nine terror targets in Gaza.According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, the targets included concealed rocket launchers and terrorist centers in central Gaza. "The IDF is prepared to defend the citizens of Israel from any threat and will continue to act decisively and as long as necessary until quiet is restored,” the statement said, placing the responsibility for the constant rocket fire on the Hamas terrorist group.
The airstrikes come several hours after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza killed two terrorists from the Islamic Jihad group.