The IDF on Monday night anounced the start of a military operation in Gaza aimed at halting the rocket fire that has increasingly plagued Israel's southern communities in recent days.
The "IDF has commenced Operation Protective Edge in Gaza against Hamas, in order to stop the terror Israel's citizens face on a daily basis," said the IDF Spokesman's office in a tweet posted after 1am.
More than 30 rockets were fired towards communities in southern Israel in the span of 30 minutes on Monday, and more than 70 were reportedly fired throughout the day. One Israeli was injured by shrapnel in Ashdod. The heavy barrage was launched from Gaza, at the same time as the funeral procession for the six Hamas members killed in a tunnel explosion Sunday night.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the heavy rocket fire, as Code Red sirens blared across the south, in towns and cities including Ashkelon, Kiryat Malachi, Ashdod, Netivot, and Be'er Sheva. The Iron Dome missile defense system shot down a total of 12 rockets over Netivot and Ashdod.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior ministers held a three-hour Security Cabinet meeting Monday afternoon to discuss the option of an escalation with Gaza, and decided that for the time being Israel will act carefully, but also steadily increase military retaliation to rockets from the Gaza Strip.
As tensions continued to escalate throughout the day, a senior military source said that the IDF had called up "some 1,500 reservists who will arrive in waves. Most of them are commanders and part of the home front command."
The heavy rocket barrage led to a suspension of rail service in southern Israel. Residents of towns in southern Israel close to the Gaza Strip were also warned to stay 15 seconds from bomb shelters at all times.
It was also cleared for publication Monday that Iron Dome missile defense batteries had been deployed in strategic positions throughout Israel.