An Iron Dome missile was launched into skies over southern Israel on Tuesday, after the advanced missile defense system reportedly mistook gunfire in the Gaza Strip for an incoming rocket fired at Israeli territory.
The missile streaked across the sky before exploding harmlessly in midair, but it triggered air raid sirens in communities bordering Gaza, sending residents running for their air raid shelters.
The IDF confirmed that there had not been any rocket fire from Gaza, but did not provide further details as to what caused the incident.
Channel 2 television reported that the Iron Dome’s system had identified bullets from light weapons fired in Gaza as a rocket heading toward Israel.
Hamas, the extremist group that rules the Gaza Strip, launched a rocket from northern Gaza into the Mediterranean Sea last week, in what Israel believes was likely a test of the group’s rockets rather than an attempt to hit Israeli territory.
The missile was probably fired during an exercise by Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Walla news site reported at the time.
Two days earlier, a rocket from Gaza landed in an open field in southern Israel, causing no injuries or damage. The strike triggered sirens in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council for the first time in two weeks.
There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, but Israel has often said it holds Hamas rulers responsible for any attacks from the coastal territory. Israel responded with an airstrike targeting a Hamas installation in Gaza. The military said it struck Hamas infrastructure in the south of the Strip. There were no reports of Palestinian casualties.
The Gaza border region has suffered sporadic rocket fire, much of it emanating from Salafist groups within the Palestinian enclave challenging Hamas rule.