IDF says false alarms triggered border sirens as airstrikes continue over Gaza

18 Hamas ‘terror targets’ destroyed in latest retaliation after bomb injures four Israeli soldiers, rocket hits Sha’ar Hanegev home

Illustrative: Flairs over the Gaza Strip as seen from the Sderot area in Southern Israel, on July 19, 2014. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: Flairs over the Gaza Strip as seen from the Sderot area in Southern Israel, on July 19, 2014. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israeli fighter jets continued to strike Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip early Sunday, as the army said the rocket sirens heard in border communities throughout the night were false alarms.

Ten “terror targets” linked to the Hamas terrorist group were destroyed in the early hours of the morning, the army said. Eight were hit by air force strikes while two by cross-border tank fire, according to the IDF.

Earlier in the night, eight sites, including one that the army said was managed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, were destroyed in response to a bomb attack on an IDF patrol in which four soldiers were injured.

The targets included observation posts, an attack tunnel and Hamas weapons factories, the army said.

The army also said that a number of rocket sirens heard across the border region were false alarms.

“There was no rocket fire shot towards Israeli territory,” the IDF spokesperson said of the sirens heard hours after one rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in the community of Sha’ar Hanegev, causing significant damage but no injuries.

In the fourth warning signal of the night, residents of the southern cities of Ashkelon and Sderot were sent running to bomb shelters shortly after 3 a.m. Moments earlier, similar signals were heard in the Sha’ar Hanegev and Hof Ashkelon regions.

The warnings came on a day of escalating violence.

Earlier Saturday, four IDF soldiers were wounded, two seriously, when a bomb exploded next to their patrol on the Gaza border fence.

A military helicopter carrying IDF soldiers wounded in an explosion during a patrol along the Gaza border arrives at Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center on February 17, 2018. (Screen capture; Twitter)

The army said the soldiers were hit when a patrol stopped along the border to remove a flag that had been placed at the fence a day earlier during a protest, and that a device planted below the flag then detonated.

The spokesperson said that the patrol — made up of Golani infantry soldiers and members of a combat engineering unit — was operating with standard procedures to remove any foreign object from the border fence, but that these would now be reviewed.

The soldiers were evacuated by helicopter to Soroka hospital in Beersheba for treatment, where three of them were rushed into surgery. The soldiers were not in life-threatening condition, hospital officials said later Saturday.

In a separate incident, an IDF tank opened fire on a group of Palestinians approaching the border in a “suspicious manner,” the army said. The Hamas-run health ministry said at least two people were wounded.

In response, Hamas’s military wing, Izz ad Din al Qassam, claimed that it had used anti-aircraft missiles against Israeli jets flying over the coastal territory.

Hamas will not allow Israel to “impose any new equation on the ground or export its internal crises and the corruption cases of its leaders by escalating the aggression on our people,” Abd al Latif Kanou, a spokesman for the terror group said.

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