Hamas fired over 30 rockets in a ten-minute period into Israel on Monday, with hits reported in Sha'ar HaNegev, the Eshkol Region, Netivot, Sderot, and Be'er Sheva between 8:00 - 8:10 pm IST.
The rocket count has escalated to over 80 on Monday evening alone, Walla! News reports close to 10:30 pm Monday; the Iron Dome missile defense system has shot down 12-13 of them over Ashdod and Netivot.
No buildings were reportedly damaged. An Askelon woman and her child are being treated for shrapnel injuries; several Ashdod residents were treated for shock.
"Code red" sirens have reportedly been sounded as of 8:30 pm as far as Tel Aviv and in Gush Etzion; rockets could be seen from as far away as Beit Shemesh, just west of Jerusalem, eyewitnesses told Arutz Sheva.
Magen David Adom (MDA) has raised the alert level as of Monday night throughout central Israel.
In addition, preschools, universities, and summer camps without bomb shelters in Ashkelon, Beit Shemesh, and Kiryat Malachi have been closed until the situation is quieted.
Ben Gurion University (BGU) and Sapir College in Be'er Sheva have both been closed until further notice.
At least 2,400 people were also evacuated from a summer camp near Kiryat Gat, out of security concerns and due to the ongoing rocket fire.
Operation in Gaza?
The barrage follows the Security Cabinet decision to prepare for escalation in the South, including a possible military campaign.
At least 1,500 reserve soldiers had been called up for preparatory training for a possible operation, security officials stated earlier Monday. Hours earlier, photos surfaced showing tanks and IDF forces gathering close to the Gaza border.
"We are also investing significantly in gathering our security forces," the official stated to Arutz Sheva Monday afternoon. "Until now we have had two full staffs working on the situation and we are readying ourselves for escalation [with Hamas]."
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck multiple terror targets earlier Monday, including a "significant" terror tunnel.
Late Monday night, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemned the rocket fire, adding that "Israel has the right to defend itself against these attacks, and we support them."