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Rocket sirens sound across south in false alarm

IDF says alert triggered by light arms fire in Gaza; defense minister declares no amount of rocket fire acceptable

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A picture taken from the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza Border on August 20, 2014, shows rockets being fired by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza strip into Israel. (photo credit: Albert Sadikov/Flash90)
A picture taken from the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza Border on August 20, 2014, shows rockets being fired by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza strip into Israel. (photo credit: Albert Sadikov/Flash90)

Missile warning sirens sounded in Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip, sending residents scurrying for shelter late Thursday morning.

The IDF said all five alarms, heard in the Hof Ashkelon and Shaar Hanegev areas, were false alarms.

The army blamed the sensitivity of the early warning system’s sensors, saying that fire within the Gaza Strip set off the alarms, Ynet reported.

Israel Radio earlier reported that two rockets seemingly landed in open areas in the Hof Ashkelon region north of the Strip without causing damage or injuries.

Area residents reported hearing explosions, according to Israeli news site NRG.

The scare came after a mortar was fired at Israel from Gaza on Tuesday night. The mortar landed but did not cause injuries or damage.

Israel and Hamas have maintained a Egypt-brokered ceasefire since August 26, ending a bloody 50-day conflict, during which the country came under daily heavy rocket fire.

Under the ceasefire, Hamas and Israel are slated to hold talks on easing restrictions in the Gaza Strip. Hamas officials said Wednesday the negotiations would begin next week.

Earlier in the day, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Israel would not accept a renewal of rocket fire from Gaza.

“We will not allow for fire that is mistakenly called ‘sporadic,'” he said during a meeting of the kibbutz movement held at the Eshkol Regional Council, which abuts the Gaza Strip.

“We will defeat the ability of the terrorist organizations to harm you,” Ya’alon told local residents, who have remained wary of the ceasefire signed with Hamas. “The operation [Protective Edge] dealt a heavy blow to Hamas, and it knows that we will not hesitate to apply our power.”

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