Netanyahu: Iron Dome system is a 'great achievement'

ByJPOST.COM STAFF
April 10, 2011 19:10

PM visits site of missile defense system near Ashkelon, says cabinet instructed IDF to continue actions in Gaza until rockets cease.




Netanyahu and Barak during a visit to Iron Dome

Netanyahu with Barak at Iron Dome 311. (photo credit:Avi Ohayon / GPO )

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday said that the Iron Dome system "is a great achievement, thanks to its operators."

Netanyahu, who was accompanied by
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, made the comments during a tour of one of the Iron Dome batteries in Ashkelon after receiving a briefing on the system's operation by a soldier.

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During the tour, Netanyahu also said that the cabinet on Sunday instructed the IDF to continue its actions in Gaza until rocket fire on Israel ceases, and that he "hopes this is Hamas's intention."

"We have positioned the IDF in this area to do what is needed in order to return the quiet," the prime minister said. "This is our intention and I hope that Hamas has the same intention."

Barak said earlier on Sunday that "Hamas, from our point of view, is responsible for everything that happens in the [Gaza] Strip and for all of the [terrorist] organizations that operate there."

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, he added, "we will not accept actions that harm our citizens, actions like the firing on the bus, or attempts to put three-quarter of a million citizens in bomb shelters." The defense minister was referring to an incident on Thursday when an anti-tank missile was fired at a school bus, leaving a 16-year-old in critical condition and the firing of over 120 rockets and mortar shells over the weekend.


Hamas sustained a heavy blow, he said, adding that "fortunately, nobody was injured" by their fire. The IDF's strikes, he said, have been "very effective and precise, and they sustained a heavy blow."

Before visiting the the site on Sunday, Netanyahu lauded the Iron Dome anti-rocket system's successes, while cautioning that it is not a complete solution to the problem of Hamas's offensive against Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Despite calls coming from both Hamas and Barak for a ceasefire, Netanyahu reiterated that the IDF would not tolerate attacks on Israeli citizens, and would respond fully. "If Israeli citizens continue to come under attack, the response will be much harsher," Netanyahu said. 

The prime minister's praise for the Iron Dome rocket defense system came as the United States was expected to transfer $205 million to Israel for the purchase and deployment of additional Iron Dome batteries, Army Radio cited the security establishment as saying Sunday.

Though the $205 million in funds will aid Israel to continue to deploy Iron Dome batteries, with the hopes of providing increased defense to Israel's more heavily populated civilian areas, greater funding is still required to adequately expand the defense system, which has cost an estimated $210 million thus far.

Iron Dome's successes can be seen in several different cases already. On Sunday, a Grad rocket fired towards Ashkelon was intercepted just outside the city. Last Friday when a Grad rocket fired from Gaza toward Beersheba was intercepted, as were four rockets that were launched towards Ashkelon. It intercepted a total of eight Grad rockets over the weekend.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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