Israel deploys Iron Dome anti-rocket system


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s military deployed the Iron Dome anti-rocket system in southern Israel for the first time, following a week of increased rocket attacks from Gaza.

The system was put into place Sunday near Beersheba, which was hit by two long-range rockets launched from Gaza last week.

Sunday’s deployment of the $200 million system is being called an "operational trial" by the Israel Defense Forces.

"It’s important to keep in mind that the Iron Dome is only in its preliminary testing stages," said Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, commander of the Home Front Command.

The IDF said in a statement that the Iron Dome will not be used consistently and will be moved around according to operational needs.

"Israel has been under missile threat for 20 years, since the Gulf War. I do not want to foster the illusion that Iron Dome, which we are deploying today, for the first time, will provide a complete or comprehensive answer," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at Sunday’s regular Cabinet meeting. "Iron Dome is still in the experimental stage, and we do not have the possibility of deploying batteries to protect every home, school, base and installation."

On Sunday, Israel’s Air Force fired on a group of Palestinians in northern Gaza that it said was preparing to fire a rocket at southern Israel. A direct hit was confirmed, according to a statement from the IDF. Two of the Palestinians were killed and three wounded, according to Palestinian reports. 

Islamic Jihad said those killed in the strike were members of its armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades.

Armed Palestinian organizations in Gaza on Saturday said they would agree to a cease-fire with Israel if it stopped attacking Gaza. Islamic Jihad, which has claimed responsibility for many of the rockets that have hit southern Israel in the past week, signed on to the statement.

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