IDF investigating alarm malfunction after rockets launched in Sinai
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IDF investigating alarm malfunction after rockets launched in Sinai

No impact sites found or explosions heard despite alarms blaring repeatedly in Eshkol region in dead of night

An Egyptian military officer watches at a post in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula, as seen from the Israel-Egypt border on Wednesday, July 1, 2015. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
An Egyptian military officer watches at a post in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula, as seen from the Israel-Egypt border on Wednesday, July 1, 2015. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

The Israel Defense Forces said it was investigating multiple alert sirens that sounded in southern Israel throughout the predawn hours of Tuesday, as a result of rocket launches in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.

The military said it suspected there was a malfunction that set off the sirens five times between 1:45 a.m. and just after 5 a.m. in the Eshkol region. An army spokesperson said that at least some of the alarms were triggered by actual, documented launches from the Sinai, though it was not immediately clear if they were necessarily directed at Israel.

“It’s being checked, it’s all being checked,” the spokesperson said.

No explosions were heard, and searches of the area turned up no impact sites.

“According to assessments, these were actual launches. In practice, no impacts were heard or found. Given the similarity between the launches, and their exceptional nature, it’s possible there was a malfunction,” the army said in a statement.

“The issue will be checked in the morning and searches for impact sites will be expanded,” the statement read.

An IDF spokesperson emphasized that a system malfunction did not rule out actual rocket launches.

Terrorists in Sinai affiliated with the Islamic State occasionally attack Israel, though they have mostly focused on battling Egyptian forces as part of an Islamist insurgency.

Cairo has redoubled a years-long effort to crack down on the so-called Sinai Province of the Islamic State since a grisly attack on a mosque last month that left over 300 people dead. Israel has reportedly offered limited help in battling the insurgency.

Tensions have also been on the rise with the Gaza Strip.

On Thursday, the Islamic Jihad launched a dozen mortar shells at an army post northeast of the Strip, causing no injuries but some damage to army equipment.

Smoke billows from a Palestinian Islamic Jihad position near Gaza City after Israeli aircraft bombed it on November 30, 2017, in retaliation to a mortar attack that targeted Israeli troops northeast of the Gaza Strip earlier in the day. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

The military retaliated with six strikes on terrorist positions in Gaza, four of them belonging to the Islamic Jihad and two to Hamas, which rules the coastal enclave.

On Sunday, the army declared the area surrounding the Gaza Strip a “closed military zone” in light of unspecified activities in the area.

The nature of the military activities and the exact location of the closures were held back by the military censor.

The army said there were no new special instructions for Israeli residents of the Gaza border region, though existing orders keeping farmers away from certain areas along the border remain in place.

The closures came a little over a month after the military destroyed an attack tunnel belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, which entered Israeli territory from the Gaza city of Khan Younis.

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