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IDF probe said to determine lightning set off weekend Gaza rockets

TV report says military cameras caught two bolts hitting electrical panels, activating Hamas’s underground launching system and sending two projectiles into Israel

This picture taken from Gaza City shows lightning flashing over buildings as the flare of a rocket launch is seen nearby during a thunderstorm in Gaza city on November 15, 2020. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
This picture taken from Gaza City shows lightning flashing over buildings as the flare of a rocket launch is seen nearby during a thunderstorm in Gaza city on November 15, 2020. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

An IDF investigation has reportedly determined that a pair of lightning strikes were responsible for setting off a pair of rockets that were launched into Israel from Gaza over the weekend.

Shortly after 2 a.m. on Sunday, two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel, one of which landed in an open field north of the city of Ashdod and the second of which struck Palmachim Beach south of Tel Aviv, causing neither damage nor injury. Shrapnel from an Iron Dome air defense interceptor missile caused minor damage in the city of Bat Yam.

Military cameras caught two bolts of lightning striking electrical panels in the northern Gaza Strip town of Shejaiya, Channel 13 reported Thursday.

The lightning generated electrical pulses that activated Hamas underground launchers, causing the rocket fire into Israeli territory that the probe was said to have found.

The IDF investigation would confirm reports in Palestinian media that claimed the rockets, which had been pre-aimed and armed, were triggered by the storm.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued warnings to Gaza terror groups later on Sunday, with the latter indicating their leadership could be targeted if fire from the enclave continued.

In response to the rocket-fire, the IDF said it targeted “an underground structure and military positions belonging to the Hamas terror group.”

This was not the first time that lightning has been blamed for rocket launches from the Gaza Strip. In October 2018, a rocket destroyed a home in the city of Beersheba and another landed off the coast of central Israel; and in March 2019, a rocket struck a home in central Israel, injuring seven and causing massive damage to the structure. In both of these cases, which came amid periods of heightened tensions, lightning was alleged to be the trigger for the launch, setting off rockets that had been preemptively primed and aimed at central Israel.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report. 

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