JERUSALEM, July 7 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli security cabinet on Monday decided to escalate air strikes against Gaza targets in response to continuous Hamas rocket firing on southern Israel, but to avoid large-scale military operations, local media reported.
The cabinet also decided to boost the preparedness of the Home Front and deploy more Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to intercept rockets near southern communities, the Ha'aretz daily said.
An Israeli official told the daily that the cabinet "instructed the army to prepare for significant expansion of the operation."
More than 70 rockets were launched towards southern Israel from the Gaza Strip on Monday. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has summoned some 1,500 reservists to boost its preparedness in the south.
"The blows will be harder," a senior official told the Ha'aretz daily. "Each succeeding day will be harder for Hamas. We will escalate attacks to make it clear to them that it is in their interest to stop the rocket fire. We are prepared to broaden the operation in case the rocket fire does not stop."
Another Israeli official told the Channel 10 News that Israel must respond to the rocket attacks but does not want to be dragged into a war. He said that Israel wants to keep the round of fighting in its current perimeters and not to expand the scope of cities hit by rockets.
"The relatively low number of reservists shows that Israel is not striving for a wide operation," the official told Channel 10, adding that the IDF will target more "high quality" targets in the Gaza Strip in future raids.
Reports said that Hamas and Israel already had indirect contacts via Egypt in attempt to reach a truce to end the fighting in the south, but to no avail. This is the most massive round of fighting in the south since Israel's 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip.