Rocket sirens sounded in communities throughout southern Israel on Sunday night in what the military said was a false alarm, amid reports that Jerusalem was nearing a long-term ceasefire agreement with the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.
The alarms sent thousands of residents rushing to bomb shelters in the town of Sderot and the surrounding Sha’ar Hanegev region.
The Israeli military said it was investigating what triggered the system.
Palestinian media reported that people in Gaza had set off celebratory fireworks in the city of Khan Younis, which may have been misidentified as rockets by Israel’s air defense systems.
The false alarm came as Israel and Hamas appeared to be nearing a ceasefire agreement, which would see an end to the border violence that has persisted in Gaza for the past seven months in exchange for a number of economic incentives.
This past weekend saw a significant decrease in violence along the border, including in the incendiary balloon attacks that have burned thousands of acres of Israeli land.
Since the violent protests began on March 30, over 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during clashes along the border, including a number of people who broke through the fence into Israel. Dozens of the fatalities were Hamas members. An Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.