(Photo credit: Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images)
Sirens were triggered in numerous areas in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem and, simultaneously, in the southern city of Eilat, warning of a false rocket attack on 19 June.
Early on Monday, the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD), which is tasked with defensive and offensive roles, stated that the alarms were triggered by a suspected “cyber attack of Iranian origin.”
The sirens sounded for roughly an hour in many of Jerusalem’s southern neighborhoods before news reports surfaced by 7:30pm on Sunday.
The alarm was not triggered on the red alert of the Home Front Command, a mobile application that alerts people to danger and provides them with instructions.
According to a statement by the Israeli army spokesman, a technical malfunction triggered the alarm, assuring citizens “there is no fear of a security incident”.
However, this statement was corrected shortly after concerns of a cyber attack were raised by security officials.
In an interview by the Jerusalem Post with retired major general Yair Golan, now a Meretz member of Knesset, Golan reiterated the challenge of ongoing Iranian cyber attacks facing Israel and the tremendous effort needed to overcome these attacks.
“The Home Front Command alarm system was not breached, the municipal siren system was – but it is very worrying and disturbing,” Golan said.
On 21 April, the Iron Dome system suffered from a fatal error causing the launch of more than two dozen Tamir interceptors after a false radar reading.
The $100,000 Tamir missiles were launched after Palestinian factions fired a single rocket coupled with heavy anti-aircraft machine gun fire towards the nearby Israeli settlements.
The bullets from the Soviet-era, anti-aircraft system were mistaken by Israeli artificial intelligence software for mortar rounds, prompting the activation of the Iron Dome.
“During the night, only one rocket was fired at Israel. The rest of the alerts were triggered by machine gun fire and anti-aircraft missiles that activated the interception systems,” according to a revised statement by the Israeli army.
The Iron Dome system is Israel’s main defense against rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon, with a proven record in combat since its inauguration in 2011.