The IDF is preparing a launch site for the Iron Dome rocket-defense system near Eilat ahead of the possibility that the system will be deployed there if terrorists in Sinai increase their rocket fire into the Red Sea resort town.

The IDF operates four Iron Dome batteries and plans to deploy an additional two within the coming year.

In April, terrorists fired at least one Katyusha rocket from the Sinai Peninsula into Eilat.

No one was wounded and the IDF said that it was not surprised due to the increase in Palestinian terrorist activity in Sinai. IDF assessments are that the rocket was either fired by a Palestinian rocket cell from Gaza – affiliated either with Hamas or Islamic Jihad – or by Beduin freelancers who work for the Gaza-based organizations.

“We are starting to think about how to defend Eilat if there is a requirement to do so,” a senior officer explained.

The Iron Dome system has intercepted over 90 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip since the first interception in April 2011. IDF plans call for the deployment of 13-14 batteries to effectively defend critical infrastructure and population centers from short-range rockets in Gaza and Lebanon.

Meanwhile Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak left for Washington, where he is scheduled to meet with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday to discuss a $680 million aid package the Obama administration plans to offer Israel to support the continued procurement of Iron Dome batteries.

The new aid package comes after the Obama administration gave Israel $205 million in 2011 and is in addition to the $3 billion Israel receives in annual foreign military aid from the United States.

The Iron Dome is designed to defend against rockets at a range of 4-70 kilometers. Each battery consists of a mini multi-mission radar manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries and three launchers, each equipped with 20 interceptors called Tamirs.

The radar enables Iron Dome operators to predict the impact site of the enemy rocket and decide not to intercept it if it is slated to hit an open area. Each interceptor costs between $50,000 and 100,000 and usually two are fired at rockets slated for interception.

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