by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) July 19, 2010
Israel will deploy in November its anti-missile system designed to combat threats from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, the defence ministry said on Monday.
"The Iron Dome interceptor, in conjunction with air force and anti-aircraft systems, successfully downed a large number of threats in fully operational mode," the ministry said in statement.
"The first two batteries will become operational in November 2010," it said adding that "the defence ministry will soon place orders for additional batteries."
The system is designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells, of which Hamas and the Hezbollah have fired thousands at Israel in the past.
The system is expected to be first deployed along the border of Hamas-run Gaza from where a daily barrage of home-made rockets fired at the Jewish state prompted Israel to launch a devastating 22-day offensive on December 27, 2008.
It will then be deployed on Israel's border with Lebanon, where the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah fired some 4,000 rockets into northern Israel during a 2006 war. Israel believes Hezbollah now has an arsenal of some 40,000 rockets.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak praised the developers for the short timeframe in which they had managed to make the system operational.
"We will act to actively deploy the batteries in the field as soon as possible," he said in the statement.
In May, US President Barack Obama asked Congress to approve giving Israel 205 million dollars to develop the system, on top of the billions of dollars in aid it gives Israel each year.
The Iron Dome will join the Arrow long-range ballistic missile defence system in an ambitious multi-layered programme to protect Israeli cities from rockets and missiles fired from Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, Syria and Iran.
A third system specifically aimed at countering medium-range missiles is still in development.
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