Israel will step up the rate and intensity of its attacks on terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, after two elderly Israeli women were killed in a massive barrage of rocket fire on the south of the country.
"I have just completed a situational assessment in [the south] with the defense minister, IDF chief of staff and GOC Southern Command," said Netanyahu in Hebrew in a video posted on social media.
"We are in the midst of a campaign," the prime minister said. "Since yesterday, the IDF has carried out hundreds of attacks on Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. We have taken out commanders, attacked a large number of their high-quality targets.
"It was concluded that we will increase both the might and the frequency of the attacks," Netanyahu said.
"Hamas will now be dealt blows that it did not expect," he said referring to the terror group that rules Gaza.
The prime minister said that the current situation required "patience and a certain sacrifice" from the people living in the south.
"Regretfully, two civilians have been killed and I ask you all to heed and carefully follow the instructions of the Home Front Command, which saves lives," he said.
Netanyahu was speaking shortly after two elderly women were killed in the southern city of Ashkelon in what Hamas said was its "largest-ever salvo" of rockets.
The launch of more than 100 rockets in the space of several minutes was an apparent attempt to overwhelm the Iron Dome missile defense system that has been largely successful in intercepting rocket fire.
Israel was preparing Tuesday for an extended round of fighting in Gaza, as the Palestinian terror groups in the Strip kept up their rocket barrages on the south.
Hundreds of rockets have been fired from Gaza since Monday evening, when Hamas launched a barrage at the Jerusalem area in response to what it called Israel's "crimes" in the capital, where tensions have been spiraling for days between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces.
The IDF has responded with airstrikes on dozens of targets in Gaza, in what it has dubbed "Operation Guardian of the Walls."
Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday approved the deployment of some 5,000 reservist soldiers, including in the Southern Command, the Home Front Command and the Operations Directorate.
The IDF also began placing artillery batteries and howitzer cannons close to the Gaza border as well as deploying anti-drone measures in the south. Terrorist organizations have used UAVs in the past, and Israel expects them to be used again, mainly against targets close to the border.
All schools, as well as workplaces without a bomb shelter, remained closed Tuesday in communities within a 40-kilometer range of the Gaza border.
Public bomb shelters were also opened in the Tel Aviv area as Israel prepared for rocket fire on the center of the country.
Schools in communities beyond the 40-kilometer range that do not have proper bomb shelters were also closed, including in the central cities of Rishon Lezion, Bat Yam and Holon.
Limits were also placed on gatherings of more than 10 people outdoors and 50 people indoors.