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Israel’s strategic defense systems will offer protection against most missile attacks, Ehud Barak said.

The Israeli defense minister and his armed forces chief, Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, appeared Tuesday before a Knesset committee discussing the condition of the home front since last year’s Lebanon war. Hezbollah guerrillas fired 4,200 rockets into northern Israel during that conflict.

Barak said Israel is integrating systems that would provide defenses against short-range rockets like those favored by Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists groups, as well as Iran’s Shehab ballistic missiles.

“There is a program that has been given a high priorit to create a multi-layer interception system,” Barak said, adding that the system will provide 90 percent protection from missile attacks “within a number of years.”

Security sources have said deployment of the integrated system, which includes Israel’s Arrow II anti-missile systems, U.S.-supplied Patriots and a mid-altitude system under development known as Iron Dome, may be deployed by 2009.

Ashkenazi said the Israeli home front would continue to face rocket threats “for the foreseeable future.”

Philip Roth and Amos Oz are considered favorites for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

British betting house Ladbrokes is giving Roth, an American-Jewish novelist, a 5-to-1 chance of winning the Nobel on Thursday, making him the front-runner.

Israel’s Oz, at odds of 10 to 1, is rated seventh.

Both writers have been in the running for the esteemed prize.

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