Iron Dome launch
Iron Dome launchDefense Ministry

Red Alert missile sirens were heard in multiple communities in southern Israel around noon on Thursday. Sirens went off in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Yavneh, Kiryat Gat, and many other areas in the south and the central lowlands.

The IDF said in a statement that: “A short while ago, sirens were activated across the lowlands and in the south of the country, apparently due to a false alarm. The circumstances are under investigation.”

On Wednesday, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi commented on the continual launching of incendiary balloons from Gaza into Israel, saying that, “The IDF is ready and prepared for the eventuality of an additional operation in Gaza. We will not accept challenges to our sovereignty, no matter who is behind them,” he added, stressing that, “We consider Hamas to be responsible for everything that happens in Gaza.”

Also on Wednesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz conducted a situational assessment in the Southern Command, along with its commander, Gen. Eliezer Toledano and other senior officers, in light of recent events along the Gazan border.

At the conclusion of his assessment, Gantz said, “Israel has no interest in Gaza other than ensuring peace and quiet and the return of our sons [captive Israeli citizens and the bodies of slain soldiers]. Hamas under the leadership of Yahya Sinwar is the obstacle to the rehabilitation of Gaza, and we will exact a price for each and every attack on our citizens, soldiers, and sovereignty.”

Gantz added that, “We have a wide array of means at our disposal [to influence matters in Gaza], including development of the area for the benefit of its more than two million residents, as well as military means which we will not hesitate to use if we need to. We will choose our methods according to the prevailing situation in Gaza.

“At this time, I would like to encourage the residents of the south as well as the family of Barel, our wounded fighter – we are all praying for your welfare,” Gantz added.