The Iron Dome missile defense system. Credit: Israel Defense Forces.

( The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched “Operation Protective Edge” in Gaza after at least 80 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel on Monday night.

The Iron Dome missile defense system shot down 12 rockets above Netivot and Ashdod, Israel Hayom reported. In Ashdod, residents fled for shelter as rocket sirens sounded throughout the city; eight people were reportedly injured, and one person who was lightly wounded by flying shrapnel was rushed by paramedics to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.

Beersheba and Ofakim were also subject to Gaza rocket fire, although most of those rockets there struck open fields and the rest were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Early warning sirens went off in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, but these were apparently false alarms.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared a state of emergency in communities within 25 miles from the Gaza border. The IDF called up 1,500 reserve troops, and more reserves are expected to be summoned. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas “chose to escalate and they will pay dearly for it.”

“We must be prepared to go all the way, and a ground offensive is also on the table,” Netanyahu said.

At the start of its operation on Tuesday morning, the IDF said it struck 50 Hamas terrorist targets in Gaza.

“This battle will not end in just a few days,” Ya’alon said.

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