False Alarms Activated in Southern Israel as Army Shells Hamas Compound in Gaza

In third consecutive day of exchanges, army reports that the Iron Dome was activated after detecting heavy gun fire

Israeli air strike in the central Gaza Strip, September 11, 2019.
Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

The Israeli army said it struck a Hamas military compound in the northern Gaza Strip Wednesday night in response to rockets fired from the coastal enclave earlier in the day. 

The strikes, carried out by Israel's Air Force, came just as rocket sirens sounded in Israel's Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. One of the alarms sounded at 11:30 P.M., and another shortly after midnight. The Israel Defense Forces later announced that the second siren was a false alarm. 

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 39Haaretz

The Iron Dome missile defense system was activated after detecting heavy gun fire, falsely identifying such activity as a rocket. The rocket fired by the Iron Dome fell in an open area near Kibbutz Zikim, according to a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson's Unit. 

The Iron Dome system is capable of working in several susceptibility modes and in its highest mode, can detect heavy machine gun fire, which falsely activated the system. 

>> Read more: Hamas takes extraordinary step to quell Gaza's 'angry youth

"The IDF will continue to oppose attempts to harm Israeli civilians and considers Hamas responsible for what is happening in and out of the Gaza Strip," the IDF further stated. 

Palestinian media first reported the strikes and later posted footage of the Iron Dome firing an intercepting missile, which self-destructed. 

Also Wednesday, a political source in Gaza's governing organization told Haaretz that rockets fired at Israel this week were not launched by Hamas. The source added that at the same time, Hamas cannot publicly condemn the attacks.

Hours earlier, three rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza. The Israeli army tank hit two Hamas military positions in the northern Gaza Strip in retaliation. 

On Tuesday night, rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip toward the Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was addressing crowds at a campaign rally in the latter city, and had to be taken off the stage mid-speech. In response, the Israel Defense Forces struck some 15 Hamas targets in the northern and central Gaza Strip overnight Tuesday.

This is the latest escalation in developing tensions on Israel's border with Gaza, as the country enters the final week of its redux election campaign.

According to the political source, the Tuesday and Wednesday launches were intended to send a signal to Hamas, Israel and Egyptian mediators that "something needs to change" in Gaza.

He said Hamas was in talks with other factions in the Strip, but added "There were no developments in the latest talks with the Egyptian delegation. The Egyptians asked for quiet, promising that positive change will take place after the [Israeli] election. We've heard these promises on the eve of the last election, on the eve of the Eurovision, and nothing changed." 

"The situation in Gaza is only worsening and the public in Gaza is strangely awaiting a clash, out of belief that it will bring change."

Hamas and other Gaza factions have not ruled out the possibility that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the rocket fire. A source in Islamic Jihad said the organization will continue to act within the strategic framework agreed upon by all parties in Gaza, and is not interested in provoking Hamas or Israel.