No rocket barrage was launched towards Israel Sunday night following reports of at least a dozen rockets launched from the Gaza Strip after incoming rocket sirens were heard in several communities.
“Everything is routine,” IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said on a call with reporters. “All of the alarms were triggered by machine gun fire in Gaza. There were no rockets which fell inside Israeli territory.”
The reason for the activation of the sirens, which sounded across several communities in the Hof Ashkelon and Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Councils including the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon, was being checked by the military, Manelis continued.
Local residents uploaded videos on social networking sites of several rockets being intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Several Israelis were said to be treated for shock.
“The Iron Dome was used against machine gun fire,” Manelis stated.Unusual machine gun fire was identified by the army but no rockets launched toward Israel were identified, the IDF said in a statement. The army said it is investigating the circumstances surrounding the launch of Iron Dome missile interception rockets.
Two IDF tanks fired on two lookout positions in the northern Gaza Strip, the army said.
The event comes as Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, carried out a military exercise
throughout the Gaza Strip on Sunday.
A source in Hamas told the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad that the drill is slated to end on Monday morning and a prominent member of Hamas told the newspaper it was meant to “mock defensive action.”
Eyewitnesses told Al-Ghad that the Kassam Brigades test-fired two missiles into the Mediterranean Sea and operated two drones.
While there was no rocket barrage, tensions have been rising along the Gaza border as Palestinians are set to commemorate Land Day at the end of the week, with thousands of Gazans expected to set up several “tent-cities” as close as they can to the border fence and to remain there until "Nakba Day," on May 15th, as a form of peaceful resistance.
The rocket fire also comes after several incidents of improvised explosive devices planted along the Gaza border fence, with one seriously injuring four Israeli soldiers in February. On Saturday, four Palestinians infiltrated Israel, causing minor damage to an engineering vehicle building Israel’s underground barrier with the Hamas-run enclave.
In a statement released earlier on Sunday, the IDF "warned of any incidents in which civilians are called to hold 'protests' used as cover to damage security infrastructure and to attempt to hurt Israeli citizens or IDF soldiers."
Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the Kassam Brigades, Hamas's armed wing, denied to the Hamas-linked al-Risala that any rockets were fired at Israel.Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.