The Hamas terror group said Tuesday that if Israel continues its airstrikes campaign in the Gaza Strip, it will expand the range of its rocket attacks to include the major southern cities of Ashdod and Beersheba, which together are home to nearly half a million Israelis.
Rocket attacks on Beersheba, located some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Strip, are rare and considered a major escalation. Ashdod lies 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) from Gaza.
“Occupied Ashkelon has entered the range of fire in response to the bombardment of civilian buildings in Gaza,” Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida wrote on Twitter. “Ashdod and Beersheva are the next targets if the enemy continues to bombard civilian buildings.” Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007, seeks to destroy Israel.
While most of the rockets shot at Israel that were not intercepted by Iron Dome landed in open areas, several scored hits on homes and other buildings.
“Approximately one million Zionists will be within the range of our missiles if the Zionist enemy’s decision is to continue its aggression,” a Hamas spokesman threatened.
Another spokesman said Tuesday morning that if Israel will continue its bombardments of Gaza, “Ashdod and Beersheba are next in line.”
Israel issued warnings of its own and indicated it would not back down.
“We continue to strike and retaliate against the military targets belonging to terrorist organizations in Gaza, and as for our intentions we will enhance these efforts as needed,” he told reporters.
IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis tweeted that “Hamas knows well what our targets are and what the price of conflict with the IDF is.”
On Monday evening, large numbers of IDF tanks and other military vehicles were seen being moved down to the Gaza border on the backs of large trucks. Earlier in the day, before the barrages began, the army also ordered extra infantry battalions to the region.
Read more at Times of Israel.