Israeli interceptors deployed against machine gun fire, not rockets -army

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Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile shield was launched on Sunday against machine gun fire originating in the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip, and not against incoming militant rockets, the Israeli army said.

Flaming streams of about 10 Iron Dome rockets could be seen rising into the night sky in a spectacular light show, but there was no indication that Islamist Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip had fired rockets, a military spokeswoman said. She said the firing detected was from machine guns.

Abu Ubaida, spokesman of the Hamas armed wing, said no rockets were fired into Israel.

Earlier, Israeli media had reported that Iron Dome had intercepted a number of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. Sirens had sounded around the border area in Israel and smart phone applications that warn of incoming rockets delivered a number of alerts in quick succession.

Heightening tension around the border, Hamas began a military exercise on Sunday in which its fighters set off explosions and test-fired rockets into the sea. Gunfire echoed across Gaza as hundreds of fighters were deployed for the exercise, which is due to continue on Monday.

“The enemy (Israel) bears responsibility for any escalation and we will not stand handcuffed against any aggression,” Abu Ubaida said in a statement.

Palestinian residents of Beit Hanoun town in the northern Gaza Strip said an Israeli tank fired two shells into their area at about the same time of the Iron Dome launches, but that there were no casualties. The Israeli army spokeswoman declined to make any immediate comment on the residents’ account.

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