After completing a search for rocket remains in the Eshkol Regional Council, the IDF has concluded that no rockets had been fired at Israel early Tuesday morning.
The army said it was investigating why five Color Red rocket alert sirens went off throughout the early morning Tuesday, speculating that it may have been the result of a malfunction. The sirens began going off at 1:48 a.m., followed by the activation of the others at 2:54 a.m., 4:14 a.m., 4:51 a.m. and 5:03 a.m.
The army initially said the sirens went off after the monitoring system detected rockets that had been launched toward Israel from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. But ot later announced that no rockets were identified or detected.
“In view of the similar and unusual characteristics of the launches, this may have been a malfunction,” read an IDF statement.
Later on Tuesday, after soldiers completed a search around the community of Kerem Shalom for signs of any mortar or rocket impact, the army determined that no long-range projectile had been fired toward Israel from Sinai.
“The sirens were a false alarm, and no rockets were launched at Israeli territory,” the IDF said.
While the activation of the sirens may have been a malfunction, it is also possible that the monitoring system detected projectiles being launched as a result of fierce clashes between the Egyptian army and Islamic State terrorists near the Israel and Gaza borders.
Israel has a 240-km. border with Sinai, and since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi rose to power, it has been reported that Cairo and Jerusalem have been closely cooperating in the fight against ISIS terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula.
Two weeks ago, 305 worshipers at the Rawda Mosque in the northern Sinai city of Bir El-Abed were massacred
in Egypt’s deadliest terrorist attack to date. Hours later, Sisi launched another large-scale military operation, ordering the military to use all force necessary to secure the peninsula.
The defeat of ISIS and the fall of its territorial “caliphate” in Syria and northern Iraq has led Israeli intelligence officials as well as Sisi himself to warn that ISIS fighters might now choose to go to the Sinai Peninsula and join the group’s affiliate there. Despite having fewer than 1,000 operatives, it is responsible for numerous deadly attacks on Egyptian security forces and on Christians in church bombings and shootings.
While Israel is not the terrorist group’s principal target, and incidents along the Israel-Egypt border are rare, there have been several attacks in recent years.
In October, ISIS claimed responsibility for two rockets launched from the Sinai that struck open territory in the Eshkol region, releasing a statement on its Amaq news agency that the group fired two Grad rockets “while dodging Jewish aircraft flying over the Wilaya.”
In April, the government decided to close its side of the Taba Border Crossing between Eilat and Egypt in light of concerns of terrorist attacks targeting tourists in Sinai, citing “the intensifying activities” of ISIS terrorists in the Sinai in recent months as well as the severity and seriousness of the threat of an attack.
A few months earlier, the group claimed responsibility for a rocket barrage fired from Sinai toward Eilat. The Iron Dome missile system intercepted three projectiles, while a fourth landed in open territory in February. There were no casualties, but four people were treated for shock.
Tensions are also high along Israel’s Gaza border, where sirens sounded in Gaza border communities and in Sderot after Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fired a barrage of 12 mortar shells toward an army outpost.
Calling the firing of the projectiles a “serious attack,” IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said the projectiles were aimed at the IDF post and a cement factory on the northeastern edge of the Gaza Strip, where construction crews are working on Israel’s new underground barrier.
IDF tanks and aircraft later fired toward six terrorist positions in the Gaza Strip, four of them belonging to PIJ and two belonging to Hamas.