Amid Gaza tensions, rocket sirens in south go off in false alarm
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Amid Gaza tensions, rocket sirens in south go off in false alarm

Activation of warning systems comes after pair of projectiles were fired at Israel Friday evening; Egyptian security delegation said to leave Strip after meeting with Hamas leaders

Illustrative: Israeli security forces take cover on the side of a highway near the Gaza border as the incoming rocket siren is heard on May 5, 2019. (Noam Rivkin Fenton/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli security forces take cover on the side of a highway near the Gaza border as the incoming rocket siren is heard on May 5, 2019. (Noam Rivkin Fenton/Flash90)

Incoming rocket sirens went off Saturday morning in a pair of farming communities near the Gaza border in what the army said was a false alarm.

The activation of the sirens came after the IDF said two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel on Friday evening. No injuries were reported.

The warning alerts went off around 10:30 a.m., sending residents of Kibbutz Nahal Oz and Kibbutz Kfar Aza scrambling to bomb shelters.

In the afternoon, the Israel Defense Forces said soldiers arrested two Palestinian suspects after earlier in the day their boat traveled out of Gaza’s permitted maritime zone. The boat was confiscated by the IDF.

Southern Israeli communities are regularly targeted by rockets fired by Gaza terrorist groups. The last major flare-up between Israel and armed groups in Gaza was in May, when hundreds of rockets were fired at Israeli border communities, towns, and cities.

Meanwhile, Palestinian reports said an Egyptian delegation that entered the enclave in a bid to calm growing tensions left Saturday through the Erez border crossing with Israel after holding talks with Hamas leaders.

On Friday, the IDF deployed further batteries of the Iron Dome missile defense system in the south of the country as Hamas threatened to avenge the death of one of its members who was shot dead a day earlier by troops in what the army characterized as “a misunderstanding.”

An operator walks by an Iron Dome missile defense battery near the city of Sderot in southern Israel on May 29, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Some 6,000 Palestinians gathered on the Gaza border for protests Friday afternoon, where some rioters hurled rocks as well as explosive devices at soldiers, Hebrew-language media reported.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said 55 people were injured, 33 of them by live fire, according to Channel 13.

On Thursday, in an unusual move, the military acknowledged that Hamas field commander Mahmoud Ahmad Sabri al-Adham, 28, had been erroneously identified by soldiers as an armed terrorist, but was apparently an operative trying to stop Palestinian youths from breaching the security fence.

Hamas field commander Mahmoud Ahmad Sabri al-Adham, 28, who was killed by IDF gunfire on July 11, 2019. (Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades)

The army’s statement appeared to be an effort to calm tensions with Hamas and prevent another round of violence on the border.

Hamas’s military wing said in a statement that it would not let the death go “unpunished” and Israel “would bear the consequences of this criminal act.”

Al-Adham’s death threatened to spark another round of large-scale violence between Israel and terror groups in Gaza. Throughout the past year and a half, the two sides have fought several bouts — with terror groups firing mortar shells, rockets and missiles at Israeli cities and towns, and the IDF retaliating with airstrikes — often sparked by smaller incidents along the border.

AFP contributed to this report.

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