After a night of relative calm over southern Israel, Hamas rockets took to the skies on Monday with Israeli police claiming 45 have been launched most of them intercepted by Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system. No casualties have been reported. The streets of Ashkelon remain deserted as Israeli citizens follow advice to stay close to home or hunker down in a network of public air-raid shelters. The conflict is bad for the high street: “We haven’t even opened the cash register. We only leave home to come here and tidy up a bit,” said one shopkeeper. As tentative peace talks take place in Cairo the Israeli army is preparing for a ground incursion massing troops and military hardware on the border with Gaza. Local media reports that the Israeli army is “stepping up pressure” and many believe a land assault is imminent. Military sources say that the objective of any ground attack will be to deal severely with the Hamas military machine. Israel claims that while it is prepared to launch a ground offensive it would prefer diplomacy to bring an end to Hamas rocket attacks.