The Color Red anti-rocket alert system activated in the Ashkelon area earlier Friday was a false alarm, the IDF said.
The alert, which was activated because of a mishap, prompted a scare among city residents.
According to earlier reports, a Qassam rocket was launched at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip Friday morning, and landed in an open area in the Ashkelon region. The Color Red siren was sounded throughout Ashkelon and the surrounding area around 11:45 am.
Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin was at the marina when the siren was sounded, and he, too, ran for cover.
"I entered the safe room there that certainly is not big enough for everyone. There was a lot of panic; women and children started crying. I tried to calm them down. It was definitely unpleasant. People were frightened, and justifiably so. The truth must be told – more than half the city is not protected. We were promised fortified educational institutions. If it continues like this, we will meet after the holiday to consider our next steps," Vaknin said.
Eitan Kassantini, owner of the restaurant and pub Fishenzone in the marina, had to pull all of his guests inside for cover.
"When the siren was heard, people left their tables and started running in panic. There are few safe rooms behind the restaurant, but it definitely is not enough. Some people came back, and others just left.
"At this time on Friday afternoons, I usually have dozens of full tables. People don't come now because they are afraid. We know this from previous sirens. Even those who stayed after the siren were very stressed, and you could see on their faces that they are sad," explained Kassantini.
Alan Sabag was grocery shopping when the siren was sounded. "I was in the supermarket. I ran to the nearest wall and got up against it as we were instructed to do. People were very frightened. Some of them left the mall at the cash register and fled. Some cried. There was a lot of panic. On a Friday before a holiday, the supermarket was full of people, and the panic was huge."
Gaza attackThursday night a Qassam rocket landed in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Following Thursday's attack, Israeli jets struck a number of targets in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians reported of numerous explosions at a number of locations. The IDF said exact hits of terror targets were identified. According to witnesses, one of the targets was a group of armed lookouts near Beit Lahiya, located in the northern part of Gaza. No one was injured in the strike.
Another strike, witnesses said, targeted a factory in Gaza City's Sabra neighborhood. Reuters reported that two children were injured from shrapnel and that serious damage was caused.
In addition, a number of missiles were fired towards open areas in the Khan Younis area, the Palestinians reported. Israeli warplanes also targeted a metal workshop in central Gaza.
According to the Palestinians, at least one missile was fired at a Hamas naval police outpost in Rafah.
Meanwhile, Hamas is trying to lower the flames, and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said in response to this Israeli strike: "My government is in talks with the Palestinian organizations to maintain a united stance with regards to the struggle against Israel."
He went on to urge the international community to "intervene to put an end to the Israeli escalation."