IDF troops unnecessarily launch Iron Dome interceptor missiles in false alarm

Palestinians report terror groups in the Strip fired rockets out to sea, which air defense soldiers falsely identified as heading toward southern Israel

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

The trail of an Iron Dome interceptor missile that was fired in a false alarm north of the Gaza Strip on October 24, 2019. (Guy Tzhayek)
The trail of an Iron Dome interceptor missile that was fired in a false alarm north of the Gaza Strip on October 24, 2019. (Guy Tzhayek)

Israeli troops unnecessarily fired at least two Iron Dome interceptor missiles on Thursday morning, the army said, apparently after misidentifying two rocket launches from the Gaza Strip that were directed out to sea as heading toward Israel.

The rocket launches triggered sirens just north of the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said.

“Alarms were triggered in the northern [Gaza] periphery due to a misidentification [of a launch] from the Gaza Strip toward Israel,” the military said in a statement.

Palestinian media reported that terror groups in the coastal enclave had launched two rockets toward the sea as part of an effort to improve their projectiles.

The IDF refused to confirm that this was the source of the “misidentification.”

The military said soldiers from a nearby Iron Dome battery fired multiple Tamir interceptor missiles. Once it became clear that the interceptors were not needed, they apparently self-destructed as per protocol.

Residents of the area reported hearing these telltale blasts.

The cost of each Tamir interceptor missile has been estimated between $35,000 and $150,000.

The false alarm came amid a period of relative calm along the normally restive Gaza border.

Last week, Israeli forces brought down a drone as it flew near the border fence along the Gaza Strip.

Illustrative: Balloons carry a makeshift drone-shaped object over the border with Israel east of Gaza City, after it was set loose by Palestinians during a protest by the fence, on March 22, 2019. (Said Khatib/AFP)

The drone was detected in the area of the southern Gaza Strip and “was brought down by IDF troops,” the army said in a statement. The army did not give details on the size or design of the drone, or how it was stopped.

On October 5, two projectiles fired at Israel fell short of the border fence, landing inside the Hamas-held territory, the IDF said.

Those launches triggered incoming rocket sirens in the Gaza border community of Kissufim in southern Israel shortly before midnight.

On September 10, two rockets were launched from Gaza at Ashdod, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was whisked off the stage of a campaign event by his bodyguards to take shelter, and at nearby Ashkelon.

On the day after the September 17 elections, three mortar shells were fired toward Israel. The projectiles all fell short of the border, two of them hitting a home in the southern city of Rafah and lightly wounding seven people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. The third fell near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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