The Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system intercepted a Grad-model Katyusha
rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, proving its capabilities in combat
for the first time.
IDF sources said the rocket was detected shortly
after it was launched in the direction of Ashkelon, south of which a battery was
deployed on Monday.RELATED:
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Two Tamir interceptors were fired at the Katyusha and
the first intercepted it, a senior Israel Air Force officer said.
is a historic achievement and the first time in the world that a short-range
rocket was shot down in this way,” one defense official said.
Iron Dome battery was deployed outside Beersheba late last month after Hamas and
Islamic Jihad fired more than 100 rockets and mortar shells into Israel in less
than a week. The IAF said it planned to keep the Iron Dome in its current
positions but would move the batteries to other cities within range of
Palestinian rocket fire over the coming weeks.
Israel plans to increase
the number of operational batteries to six in the coming years; the Obama
administration has pledged $205 million to cover the purchase of more rocket
defense systems. The Defense Ministry recently completed negotiations with Iron
Dome manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems about the upcoming
Sources in the air force said the Iron Dome was still undergoing an
operational evaluation but would continue to be activated in the event of
attacks from the Gaza Strip.
Former defense minister and Labor Party MK
Amir Peretz, who made the decision to develop the Iron Dome, hailed the success
and said that it was the result of “well-trained young soldiers who were
prepared for their mission.”