ISRAEL, March 26, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — The Israeli government has decided to deploy an expensive rocket defense system in response to the recent increase in mortar and rocket fire into southern Israel from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, VOA reported.
This so-called “Iron Dome” interceptor system is said to be capable of shooting down rockets fired from a range of five to 70 kilometers.
Israel’s decision follows Friday’s pledge by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his government is prepared to act with “great force” to halt rocket attacks from Gaza.
Dozens of rocket and mortar shells have been fired across the Israeli-Gaza border in the past week. The Israeli military has responded with air strikes, in the most serious escalation of violence since the end of the Gaza War two years ago.
Mr. Netanyahu spoke Friday, on the same day he met in Jerusalem with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Gates was in the region to get the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process back on track. He later became the first U.S. defense chief to visit the West Bank. He met in Ramallah with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad.
Mr. Fayad said this is a “time of great challenge” throughout the region, but also a “time of opportunity.”
Gates traveled to Israel from Egypt, where he held talks with officials about the pro-democracy movement sweeping across the Middle East. He stopped in Jordan for talks with King Abdullah on Friday before leaving for home. (*)