False alarms triggered north of Gaza as IDF bombs Hamas sites in reprisal raids
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False alarms triggered north of Gaza as IDF bombs Hamas sites in reprisal raids

Israeli military strikes terror group’s positions in the Strip in response to rocket attack earlier in the day; anti-aircraft fire sets off sirens in southern Israel

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

A burst of light, apparently caused by an Iron Dome interceptor missile detonating itself, illuminates the night sky over the northern Gaza Strip on September 11, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)
A burst of light, apparently caused by an Iron Dome interceptor missile detonating itself, illuminates the night sky over the northern Gaza Strip on September 11, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)

The Israeli military conducted retaliatory airstrikes in the Gaza Strip late Wednesday night, following a rocket barrage from the coastal enclave earlier in the day and rising tensions in recent weeks, the army said.

Anti-aircraft fire directed at the attacking Israeli aircraft set off incoming rocket sirens in the communities of Zikim and Mavki’im just north of the Gaza Strip, and triggered the Iron Dome missile defense system, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

A 76-year-old woman suffered light-to-moderate injuries to her head and upper body after she fell while running to a bomb shelter in the community of Zikim, medics said.

“IDF fighter jets and aircraft attacked a number of targets in a military compound belonging to the Hamas terror group in the northern Gaza Strip. The attack was in response to the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory earlier in the day,” the military said in a statement.

“The IDF will continue to act against attempts to harm citizens of Israel and sees the Hamas terror group as responsible for what is done in the Gaza Strip,” the army said.

Earlier in the evening, another false alarm — apparently caused by intense machine gun fire — sent hundreds of Israelis scrambling to bomb shelters south of the city of Ashkelon.

Palestinian media reported that terrorists in the Strip had directed anti-aircraft fire at Israeli drones, which triggered the IDF’s sensitive air defense systems.

Footage of the anti-aircraft fire was shared on Palestinian social media, as was a video of the Iron Dome interceptor missiles detonating in mid-air. The interceptors are designed to self-destruct in cases of a false alarm, where there is no incoming rocket to shoot down.

Moments before the alarms, Palestinian media reported that the Israeli Air Force had begun bombing Hamas positions throughout the Gaza Strip.

Outlets in the Strip said Israeli aircraft targeted sites in both the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis and Hamas’s “Ashkelon position” — from which the terror group has fired on the Israeli city of the same name — in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza.

The Israeli military did not immediately confirm the locations of its airstrikes.

Earlier on Wednesday, three rockets were fired toward Israeli communities north of the Gaza Strip, the IDF said, and on Tuesday, two rockets were fired at Ashdod and Ashkelon, both of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

In the Wednesday afternoon attack, 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 IDF 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.

In the predawn hours of Wednesday morning, 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, the IDF said.

Prime Minister Benjamin 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.

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