Army says no rockets launched at Israel overnight, sirens were false alarm
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Army says no rockets launched at Israel overnight, sirens were false alarm

From 1:45 to 5 a.m., incoming missile warning blared five times in Israeli community near Egyptian border

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israelis sit and pray together inside a street shelter, in anticipation of the Code Red siren alerting of incoming rockets, in the Southern Israeli town of Nitzan, on the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge, July 11, 2014 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Israelis sit and pray together inside a street shelter, in anticipation of the Code Red siren alerting of incoming rockets, in the Southern Israeli town of Nitzan, on the fourth day of Operation Protective Edge, July 11, 2014 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

After completing a preliminary investigation, the army said Tuesday that multiple rocket alert sirens that sounded in southern Israel in the predawn hours were a false alarm, and that no missiles were fired at Israeli territory.

The alarm system was activated five times between the hours of 1:45 a.m. and just after 5 a.m. in the Kerem Shalom community near the Gazan and Egyptian borders.

The army initially said the sirens were caused by rocket launches from the Sinai Peninsula toward Israel, but later, on Tuesday morning, announced it suspected the sirens were set off by a malfunction in the system.

Hours later, after soldiers searched the area surrounding Kerem Shalom for signs of a rocket or mortar shell impact, the army said it had completed its checks and determined that no projectiles had been launched from the Sinai at Israel.

“The sirens were a false alarm, and no rockets were launched at Israeli territory,” a military spokesperson said.

It was not immediately clear if there had been launches in Sinai that were not directed at Israel, but were instead part of internal Egyptian fighting.

The spokesperson added that the incident was being investigated to determine what caused the malfunction.

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

Joshua Davidovich contributed to this report.

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