IDF opens probe after rocket alarms ‘unnecessarily’ sound in Sderot, border towns

Military says machine gun fire detected, but apparently did not endanger civilians; one woman treated for anxiety; IDF walks back on Saturday drone interception claim

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Illustrative: View of the barrier along the Israel-Gaza border, on December 8, 2021. (Flash90)
Illustrative: View of the barrier along the Israel-Gaza border, on December 8, 2021. (Flash90)

The military said it had launched an investigation after troops “unnecessarily” triggered incoming rocket sirens in the southern city of Sderot and other nearby towns on Sunday evening, after heavy machine-gun fire was detected from the Gaza Strip.

The incident came a day after the Iron Dome air defense system launched interceptor missiles in southern Israel, following an apparent false identification of a drone.

The Israel Defense Forces initially said Sunday the machine-gun fire from Gaza caused the rocket sirens to sound, but in a later statement, said the alarms were “triggered unnecessarily.”

“The matter is being investigated,” the IDF said.

No damage was reported in the shooting, which apparently did not endanger civilians or Israeli towns.

A woman in her 30s was treated for anxiety after the sirens sounded in Sderot, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.

The sirens also sounded in the towns of Gevim, Ibim, Nir Am and Or Haner, as well as at Sapir College.

The Israel Defense Forces said Iron Dome was not activated during the incident on Sunday, in accordance with its interception protocol.

Machine-gun fire from Gaza, both errant and intentional, has set off rocket alarms in towns close to the border numerous times in recent years.

In another unusual incident on the Gaza border, the IDF said Saturday night that the Iron Dome shot down a drone flying over the Strip, but later walked back on the claim.

Footage showed two Iron Dome interceptor missiles being launched over Sderot, and the army initially said it had taken the drone down.

The IDF on Sunday night published the results of an investigation into the launch of the Iron Dome missiles, saying the probe found that the interceptors were fired according to protocol, “and with correct operational judgment.”

However, it remained unclear if there had actually been a drone or other aerial target that needed intercepting.

Separately on Sunday, sirens briefly sounded in the northern city of Kiryat Shmona. The IDF said the alarms were “unnecessarily” activated, and the incident would be further investigated.

Unlike the sirens in southern Israel, there was no incoming rocket alert sent to residents of the northern city via the Home Front Command mobile application.

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