Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday thanked US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta for helping Israel maintain its qualitative military advantage in the region and for special assistance in acquiring additional Iron Dome batteries.

At the meeting, Barak told Panetta that he wanted to thank US President Barack Obama and the American government regarding military aid to Israel, "the complete commitment to Israel's security and for other recent assistance in acquiring the Iron Dome batteries."

Barak noted that the additional assistance in buying Iron Dome batteries on an expedited basis "was given during a crucial period and we are grateful."

The defense minister said that the US assistance would allow Israel to utilize extra batteries and strengthen Israel's defense against missiles and rockets, and give Israel's leaders the political and diplomatic leverage to "prevent a significant escalation."

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