Israel made preparations Tuesday for an extended round of fighting in Gaza, as Palestinian terror groups in the Strip kept up their rocket barrages on the south.
A senior source in Jerusalem said Tuesday that Israel wants to step up the intensity of the IDF attacks in Gaza.
Ashkelon was pounded repeatedly throughout Tuesday, after a short respite from a night of heavy fire that wounded six people in the southern city.
Sirens also repeatedly sounded across the communities close to the Gaza border as rockets were launched from the Strip. Balloons bearing incendiary devices were also sent from Gaza into Israel, setting fields alight.
More than 200 rockets have been fired from the Strip since Monday evening, when Hamas launched a barrage at the Jerusalem area in response to what it called Israeli "crimes" in the capital.
The IDF has responded with airstrikes on dozens of targets in Gaza, in what it has dubbed "Operation Guardian of the Walls."
Schools and 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.
On Tuesday morning, IDF troops struck a cell firing anti-tank missiles across the border before a missile could be launched at an Israeli target. An airstrike also hit a high-rise apartment building in western Gaza City, although the target of the strike was not announced by the military.
Islamic Jihad said Tuesday morning, however, that two of its senior officials were killed in the strike. A third official, the brother of a Islamic Jihad commander killed by Israel in 2019, was seriously wounded in the strike.
In an unusual move, Hamas also announced Tuesday morning that several people were killed and some were missing after an IDF attack on a building used by its members.
After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday night that the fighting could last for days, 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.
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi on Monday also canceled a large scale military drill in order to free up troops for operations in Gaza.
The IDF also Tuesday 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.
The Palestinians said Tuesday that at least 24 people have been killed in the IDF airstrikes.
Tensions have been spiraling in Jerusalem for days, as Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces on the Temple Mount, at the Damascus Gate and in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman told reporters early Tuesday that the IDF attacked 130 terror targets in the Strip overnight.
"We hit 15 terrorists, attack tunnels near the border fence, the home of a senior Hamas commander and the Hamas intelligence command in the southern part of the Strip. We also hit rocket production sites, weapons depots, military posts and an Islamic Jihad training facility," Zilberman said.
"We will increase the level of attacks in the coming hours," he added. "We will not stop until we make a substantial impact on the Hamas terror group's infrastructure. This will take days and not hours," he said.
Itamar Eichner and Adir Yanko contributed to this report