The Israel Defense Forces are preparing to call up reservists, IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis told reporters on Tuesday morning.
The Israeli army said the move is expected to be executed on Tuesday afternoon and will be restricted to the mobilization of “vital forces” for now.
However, the IDF also announced that the mobilization could be “expanded” if needed.
The dramatic announcement, a clear sign Israel is preparing for another war against Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups in Gaza, came after more than 400 rockets rained down on southern Israel since Monday afternoon.
Magen David Adom, the Israeli first aid organization and ambulance service, said 27 Israelis were injured by the massive missile attacks from Gaza while one resident of the coastal city of Ashkelon was killed by a direct hit on his house Monday night.
The victim appeared to be a Palestinian Arab, 48, from the Hebron area who was only found dead hours after police and the fire brigade arrived at the scene of the devastating blast which destroyed an entire building.
The lead up to what could be the third Gaza war began this weekend when a Palestinian terrorist from Gaza infiltrated an Israeli community in the vicinity of the security fence and set ablaze a greenhouse before being arrested by Israeli security forces.
The incident was followed by a shoot-out between an elite undercover unit of the IDF and members of Hamas’ military wing Izz-a-Din al-Qassam in the area of the Palestinian town of Khan Younis in Gaza on Sunday night.
The secret intelligence-gathering operation went awry when members of Izz-a-Din al-Qassam spotted the IDF unit and tried to stop the private car they were traveling with.
In the ensuing shoot-out, 7 Hamas terrorists were killed, among them Nour Barakeh, a Qassam Brigade commander who reportedly was in charge with Hamas’ terror tunnel project and served as the commander of Hamas’ regional battalion in Khan Younis.
On the Israeli side Lt.Col. Mem - as he was called by the IDF apparently for security reasons - a senior Druze IDF commander was killed during the battle which involved Israeli warplanes and helicopters which came to the rescue of the exposed soldiers.
In response to the botched IDF operation in Gaza Hamas started to pound the Israeli communities and towns in the Gaza belt with rockets.
The attacks continued until 1.15 AM Monday morning after which a tense calm seemed to have been restored in southern Israel.
The deterioration in the security situation in southern Israel forced Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to cut short his visit to Paris where he attended the centennial of World War 1.
The Israeli PM, who on Sunday said he would do his utmost to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Gaza and allowed Qatar to deliver $15 million in cash to the impoverished enclave, immediately started consultations with the top of the IDF after arriving in Israel.
Hamas, meanwhile, used the funeral of the 7 slain terrorists to ignite the Palestinian street and organized a mass demonstration against “the occupation”.
Shortly after the funeral of the 7 Hamas terrorists, the IDF struck an observation tower along the Gaza border which was used to identify targets for Hamas’ mortar and missile squads/
It didn’t prevent an unprecedented attack with a surface to surface missile on an Israeli bus which had just transferred a group of 50 IDF soldiers to the border with Gaza.
The 50 soldiers miraculously escaped a certain death while the Arab bus driver was critically wounded by the Hamas Cornet missile.
While first aid responders were still busy saving the life of the bus driver Hamas and Islamic Jihad started what they called “a bombardment of the enemy’s settlements” with “scores of rockets.”
The terrorists kept word and pounded southern Israel with no less than 400 rockets during Monday night and Tuesday morning while the Israeli air force struck dozens of terror-related targets in Gaza, among them the studio of Hamas’ TV station al-Aqsa.
Hamas, however, didn’t make good on its threat to widen the range of its rockets which can hit virtually every major Israeli population center up to the port city of Haifa in northwestern Israel.
This could be an indication that the terrorist group wanted to prevent another IDF ground operation in Gaza.
The question is now what the Israeli security cabinet, which already discusses the situation since 9 AM on Tuesday, will decide.
Until now the cabinet has been divided about an adequate response to the ongoing terror emanating from the Gaza Strip.
Many Israeli observers and commentators, as well as residents of the towns of villages in the Gaza belt, are convinced that Israel should change its policy of restraint versus Hamas and should now launch a new ground operation to finish off Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
After all, every attempt to restore calm in Israel’s south and to improve the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza has been interpreted by Hamas and Islamic Jihad as a sign of Israeli weakness according to these observers.
Israel shouldn’t Hamas and the other Palestinian terror groups let dictate the security situation in the Jewish state according to the experts.
PHOTO: Israeli soldiers meet, and pray, at a gathering point near Gaza. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)