Rocket sirens blare in Golan, Iron Dome set off in false alarm
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Rocket sirens blare in Golan, Iron Dome set off in false alarm

Army confirms air defense battery launched a missile, denies reports it intercepted a drone over northern Israel

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

An Iron Dome missile defense system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, is deployed in northern Israel on May 7, 2018. (Jalaa Mary/AFP)
An Iron Dome missile defense system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, is deployed in northern Israel on May 7, 2018. (Jalaa Mary/AFP)

The Israeli military said it was investigating what triggered an Iron Dome missile defense battery in the Golan Heights on Thursday, denying widespread reports that the system had intercepted a drone.

Earlier, incoming rocket alert sirens blared across the northern Golan Heights, sending residents scrambling to bomb shelters.

“Regarding the reports of sirens in the Golan region, this was a false alarm,” the Israel Defense Forces said.

“An Iron Dome [battery] was activated. The circumstances are being investigated. It should be stressed that the reports of a drone being identified and intercepted are false,” the military said in a statement.

The Golan regional council told residents they were cleared to come out of their bomb shelters.

The sirens were reported in communities across the Golan Heights, including the area’s largest town, Katzrin.

Tensions along Israel’s northern borders have been high following a fierce exchange between Iranian and Israeli forces in Syria in the predawn hours of May 10.

According to the IDF, at around midnight members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ al-Quds Force launched approximately 20 rockets at military bases in northern Israel. Four of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the other 16 fell short of the border.

In response, the Israeli Air Force conducted strikes against over 50 Iranian military targets in Syria and destroyed several Syrian air defense systems that had fired on Israeli jets, the army said.

The IRGC attack appeared to be in retaliation to an Israeli air raid in April against the Iran-controlled T-4 air base, which targeted an advanced Iranian air defense system that had recently been delivered. Tehran swore revenge after the attack, which killed at least seven Iranian soldiers, including a top officer.

Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that the Jewish state will not accept Iranian entrenchment in Syria and is prepared to take military action in order to prevent it.

Last week, the Israeli army reportedly told senior ministers that it believes the current round of hostilities was over, but tensions in the north will persist, and that border incidents are still possible.

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