Newly placed Iron Dome battery intercepts rocket fired at Tel Aviv

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A fifth Iron Dome missile defense system was deployed in the Tel Aviv area, and shortly afterwards intercepted a rocket aimed at the major Israeli city.

The Iron Dome battery was delivered two months ahead of schedule, and reportedly uses an improved radar and interception system, making it more effective. The battery was scheduled to be delivered to the military early next year, according to the defense ministry.

On Saturday afternoon, Iron Dome intercepted at least one rocket fired at Tel Aviv. Rockets fired from Gaza struck several homes on Saturday, including a ten-story apartment building in the center of Ashdod, a home in Be’er Tuvia and a home in the Eshkol Regional Council. 

According to the Israel Defense Forces spokesman, the Air Force throughout the day Saturday struck dozens of what it called terror sites throughout Gaza, including terror tunnels, rocket launching sites and several squads that were involved in launching rockets at Israel.

Overnight Friday and Saturday morning, the IDF targeted Hamas government buildings as well as several rocket launching squads that were involved in firing rockets toward Israel. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah’s headquarters, the Hamas Ministry of Interior, and the Hamas police compound also were hit by the Israeli military, according to the IDF spoleman. The IDF also hit the home of senior Hamas commander A-Din Hazaz, though it is believed that he was not home at the time. Another senior Hamas leader, Osama Qadi, was hit, but his condition is unknown.

Some 47 Gazans, both terrorists and civilians, have been killed since Nov. 14, according to the Palestnian Maan news agency.

Five Israeli civilians and 4 IDF soldiers were injured by rocket fire on Saturday.

Since Operation Pillar of Defense began on Nov. 14, more than 400 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israeli territory, according to the IDF. The Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted 267 rockets from Gaza since Nov. 14.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday spoke with numerous world leaders to update them on the operation, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Following a meeting of the Arab League, Arab ministers approved ongoing Egpyptian efforts to  negotiate a truce to end the Israeli offensive. A statement issued after the meeting on Saturday night condemned what it called Israeli "aggression." A delegation of foreign ministers from Arab countries is set to leave for Gaza in the next day or two, according to Reuters.

Hamas reportedly said it would halt its rocket fire on Israel if Israel agrees to stop targeted killings and lifts the blockade on Gaza.

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