A senior officer in the security establishment said on Sunday that Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, and Ofakim will soon be within range of rockets fired by Palestinian gunmen from the Gaza Strip.
Accoding to intelligence gathered by the military, the Palestinians are seeking Russian-made Grad missiles which firing range of 22 km exceeds that of the homemade Qassam by 10 km at least.
The Grad is seen as the next rocket in the arsenal of terror groups in the Gaza Strip.
The officer said terror groups are seeking both to smuggle Grad missiles from Egypt through tunnels and to produce similar rockets in the Gaza Strip.
Qassam rockets fired into Israel have a firing range of 7-9 kilometers and carry improvised explosives.
But a recent rocket fired into Ashkelon contained traces of TNT, security officials said.
The security establishment believes the Palestinians are seeking to produce two-motor rockets which can reach targets up to 12 km away.
According to the officer, the timing of the rocket's explosion can cause more damage than the amount of explosives it carries: A rocket that explodes 2-3 meters before hitting its target is deadlier than a rocket that explodes upon landing.
The officer described rockets of this kind as "flying suicide bombers."
Police in Ashdod, Kiryat Gat and Ofakim said they are ready to deal with possible rocket attacks, but the mayors of the three southern towns have refused to announce precautionary measures for fear of causing panic.
A Qassam rocket exploded in a house in Sderot on Sunday, lightly injuring a resident. Two other residents were treated for shock.