Western Galilee residents left fuming at IDF’s decision to temporarily deactivate rocket warning system. Army says assessment suggested only ‘slim chance’ of fire
As explosions were heard Monday night across the western Galilee and smoke filled the skyline, one thing remained missing – an air raid siren.
Ynet learned Tuesday that the IDF decided to temporarily deactivate the warning system following intelligence assessments suggesting that the likelihood of rocket fire at the northern border was slim. Yet in spite of those assessments, two Katyusha rockets were fired on the western Galilee Monday night, luckily with no casualties.
Meanwhile, a Lebanese security official told the media that the Lebanese army found two improvised rocket launchers in an open area between the villages of Ramish and Ein-Eival. He noted that a battery and stopwatch were also found.
Northern town chiefs sought out GOC Northern Command Major-General Yair Golan to ask why they had not received an early alert of the rocket fire.
As a result, it was soon revealed that the system, which is supposed to trigger the alert when a rocket launch is identified, was not operational Monday night.
IDF officials explained that the system operates under the current situational assessments. Apparently the relative quiet of the last two years on the Israeli side of the border, and the lack of intelligence warnings to the contrary led to the decision to turn the system off.
The military is not expected to escalate its first response – artillery fire at the sources of the rocket fire – and for now, will only increase its intelligence gathering missions in Lebanon.
‘Reminders of 2006′
Hezbollah denied any connection to the Katyusha fire and is expected to make an official announcement later in the day. Residents of the town of Aita al-Shaab said that they heard the rocket fire and the IDF response some 50 minutes after the rockets were fired.
“The explosions reminded us of 2006 when the entire village was destroyed during the war between Israel and Hezbollah.”
The Lebanese army confirmed that the rockets were fired from southern Lebanon but said they did not know who was behind the attack. “We know a rocket was fired from the Ramesh area and are looking into the matter,” said the army spokesman.
Lebanese Army and UNIFIL forces have been carrying out patrols in the launch areas as in the place where the artillery fired by Israel in response landed. A UNIFIL official said that the circumstances surrounding the fire were being investigated.
One of the Katyusha rockets exploded near the border just after midnight. There were no casualties but some buildings sustained damages. A second rocket did not explode and was only located on Tuesday morning.