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Israel will fortify a limited number of communities near Gaza against Palestinian rocket attacks.

A Cabinet-level committee appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Sunday that around 8,000 homes in towns and kibbutzim within 2 miles of the Gaza border will, over the next two years, be provided with fortified “safe rooms” and have their ceilings bolstered to withstand rocket strikes.

The $100 million plan is meant to complement Iron Dome, an Israeli anti-rocket system currently under development and which, when completed, is expected to shoot down rockets with a range of more than 2 miles.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said Iron Dome will be ready for trials in 2010.

Many Palestinian rockets have 2- to 3-mile ranges, but some have reached as far as 9 miles.

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