Rocket sirens sound in false alarm as Gaza tensions rise

Rocket sirens sound in false alarm as Gaza tensions rise

Alarms come hours after 3 rockets fired from Gaza, lightly damaging an Israeli home, following Israeli airstrikes

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

Israelis run for cover as air raid sirens sound in the Israeli city of Sderot on March 12, 2014. (AFP/David Buimovitch)
Illustrative. Israelis run for cover as air raid sirens sound in the Israeli city of Sderot on March 12, 2014. (AFP/DAVID BUIMOVITCH)

Incoming rocket sirens sounded in areas south of the city of Ashkelon on Wednesday night in what the Israeli army said was a false alarm.

The sirens were triggered in an industrial zone south of Ashkelon and in the nearby community of Mavki’im, the army said.

Just before the alarms began, residents of the area said they’d heard sounds of intense gunfire, which has in the past set off the Israel Defense Forces’ sensitive rocket detection systems.

The IDF said it was investigating what set off the sirens, which capped a day of intense cross-border fire.

Earlier on Wednesday, three rockets were fired toward Israeli communities north of the Gaza Strip, the IDF said, and on Tuesday, rockets were fired at Ashdod and Ashkelon, forcing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to briefly leave a campaign event.

One of the projectiles struck inside an Israeli community, causing light damage to a home. The other two landed in open fields, causing neither injury nor damage.

In response, the Israel Defense Forces targeted two Hamas observation posts in northern Gaza.

“An IDF tank attacked two military posts belonging to the Hamas terror group in the northern Gaza Strip. This attack was carried out in response to the rocket launches at Israeli territory,” the army said in a statement.

The Gaza Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry said there were no Palestinian casualties in the retaliatory strike.

A window shattered by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in a home in the Hof Ashkelon region of southern Israel on September 11, 2019. (Hof Ashkelon Region)

Early Wednesday, Israeli jets launched air strikes on 15 targets belonging to the Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip, in response to the rockets fired at Ashdod and Ashkelon, which were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, according to the IDF.

Netanyahu — who bills himself as “Mr. Security” — was widely panned by his political rivals for being forced offstage by a gaggle of security guards as the sirens sounded in Ashdod.

In nearby Ashkelon, Blue and White MK Gabi Ashkenazi had to cut a campaign event short due to the rocket fire. The city opened its public bomb shelters after the sirens went off as a precautionary measure in case rocket attacks persisted.

Netanyahu warned Hamas on Saturday that Israel would respond forcefully to any attempt to harm its citizens and soldiers, following two days of violent incidents on and near the Gaza border.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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