(SOURCE) The Israel Defense Forces announced after midnight Monday that it has launched a major operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The operation has been given the code name “Operation Protective Edge.”
IAF fighter planes and aircraft are currently flying sorties over Gaza seeking terror targets, Israel Radio reported.
Heavy rocket barrages slammed into southern Israel on Monday evening, triggering air raid sirens across wide areas, including the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, Sderot, Rehovot and Beit Shemesh.
Seven long-range Palestinians rockets were intercepted over Ashdod, and five over Netivot.
Some 30 rockets were fired from Gaza in the Monday night barrage. A total of 80 rockets slammed into southern Israel throughout the day and evening.
The attacks came shortly after a senior military source said the IDF is taking “significant steps” to prepare itself for a stepped up campaign of attacks against Hamas in Gaza. He spoke as Palestinian projectile fire from the Strip continued unabated.
(Video: Iron Dome interceptions, filmed from Rehovot)
The Iron Dome defense system intercepted seven rockets over Ashdod on Monday night and five over Netivot after Gaza terrorists fired a barrage of projectiles at southern Israel. A man in Ashdod was injured from shrapnel.
Sixteen projectiles also landed in open areas near the southern city of Beersheba, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
Air raid sirens were heard on Monday in the outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but an Israeli police spokesman said they were false alarms.
The armed wing of Hamas Izz al-Din al-Qassam took responsible for the latest barrage of rocket fire on Israel on Monday night.
The Home Front Command has instructed the municipalities of Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba, and Gaza border communities to open public bomb shelters in anticipation of long-range Hamas rocket attacks.
“We can’t avoid dealing with Gaza because there is noise [security developments] in other arenas,” the source said, referring to rioting by Arab Israelis and in Palestinian districts of east and north Jerusalem.
The IDF’s steps to enhance preparedness on the Gaza border include the calling up of 1,500 reserves, and the setting up of infantry assault units on the Gaza border, in case “a decision is made” for an offensive in Gaza, the source said.
“We are ready for an escalation,” the source said, adding that Hamas is not only failing to prevent other terror groups from firing projectiles at southern Israel, it is taking an active and dominant part in the recent attacks.