Sirens sound in north in false alarm amid threats of Hezbollah attack

Military says concerns that a drone had entered Israeli airspace prompted alerts, which sent residents of communities along the Lebanese border rushing to bomb shelters

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Israeli mobile artillery units sit in place in northern Israel near the border with Lebanon, July 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Israeli mobile artillery units sit in place in northern Israel near the border with Lebanon, July 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Incoming rocket sirens sounded in Israeli communities along the Lebanese border on Friday morning in a false alarm, the military said, amid ongoing threats of attack by the Hezbollah terror group.

The alarms were heard in the Western Galilee communities of Avivim, Meron, Dovev, Hurfeish, Sassa, Netua, Fasuta and Peki’in, Tzivon, Tzuriel, and Alkush.

The Israel Defense Forces said the sirens, which went off shortly after 8:30 a.m., were triggered over concerns that a drone had entered Israeli airspace. IDF troops apparently identified an Israeli aircraft as a foreign drone.

“Regarding the reports of alrams in the Galilee region, no rockets were fired at the State of Israel. This was a mistaken suspicion of an infiltrating unmanned aerial vehicle,” the military said in a statement.

Over the past two and a half weeks, the IDF has been on high alert along the Lebanese border, girding for a potential attack by Hezbollah in retaliation for the death of one of its fighters in an airstrike in Syria that was widely attributed to Israel.

On Thursday night, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi decided to keep the Israel Defense Forces on high alert along the country’s northern borders, despite speculation that Hezbollah may call off, or at least postpone, its reprisals in light of the deadly explosions that rocked Beirut on Tuesday evening, killing over 130 people, injuring thousands, and leaving nearly a third of a million people homeless.

On Thursday morning, a Lebanese journalist considered close with Hezbollah, Ibrahim al-Amin, wrote in the al-Akhbar newspaper that the terror group still planned to carry out an attack on Israel despite the explosion, which killed at least 137 people and left some 5,000 more injured.

“Those who are betting that the port explosion will lead Hezbollah to cancel its decision to respond to the crime in Syria are once again thinking in the wrong manner,” al-Amin wrote.

“They will realize that the response of the resistance is an inevitable reality, and it will be a bloody one against the occupation forces. Its goal is both punitive and deterrent,” he said.

Israel has been bracing for a possible attack from Hezbollah in retaliation for a July 20 airstrike in Syria attributed to the IDF, in which a member of the Iran-backed terror group was killed.

Israeli army forces seen stationed near the border between Israel and Lebanon in the Golan Heights, on July 27, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Defensively, the IDF moved troops away from areas vulnerable to attack and stepped up surveillance along the frontiers, and to prepare for the need to retaliate forcefully, the IDF also deployed infantry, special forces and artillery reinforcements to the area.

The IDF credits its heightened state of alertness with foiling an attempted attack by Hezbollah on July 26, in which a group of at least three armed terrorist operatives entered the Israeli-controlled area of Mount Dov, also known as Shebaa Farms, along the border.

Hezbollah denied carrying out the attack, saying the IDF’s claims were “absolutely false.” The group also said that it still plans to retaliate for the killing of its member.

The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, is set to give a televised speech on Friday, after postponing a planned Wednesday address due to the explosion.

Most Popular
read more: