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IDF tests rocket warning system in southern Israel

Incoming missile alert sounds in and around Beersheba as part of an exercise by the Home Front Command

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Soldiers in the IDF Home Front Command's search and rescue units carry a stretcher during a large-scale exercise in Zikim near the Gaza border on July 3, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Soldiers in the IDF Home Front Command's search and rescue units carry a stretcher during a large-scale exercise in Zikim near the Gaza border on July 3, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

The Israel Defense Forces activated an air-raid siren in southern Israel on Tuesday morning as part of an emergency preparedness exercise, the army said.

At 11:05 a.m., the incoming missile alarm sounded in the city of Beersheba, as well as in surrounding communities, in an area bounded by Beit Kama in the north, Sde Boker in the south, Arad in the east, and Netivot in the west.

In the case of an actual rocket alert siren, the system would sound twice, the army said earlier.

“The IDF spokesperson stresses that this test was planned ahead of time as part of its 2017 exercise plan and it is meant to test the alert systems,” the army said in a statement.

On Sunday, rocket sirens sounded in several Gaza border communities in what the army said was a false alarm.

The day before, one rocket exploded near the city of Ashkelon, north of Gaza, causing no casualties or damage, while a second rocket apparently fell inside Palestinian territory. The IDF responded with tank fire and airstrikes at several Hamas targets in the Strip. There were no reports of casualties there.

Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza, has largely refrained from firing rockets into Israel since it fought a devastating war with Israel in 2014. Launches have often been ascribed to radical Salafist groups.

Still, Israel has routinely responded by striking Hamas targets, with the military saying it holds Hamas responsible for any attacks emanating from the territory it controls.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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