Thursday, April 21, 2011

Surprize: U.S. Congress to allocate $205 million for Iron Dome rocket interception system

The few days' lull in the south was broken on Friday by a Grad rocket fired from Gaza toward Israel on Friday. The rocket exploded in an open ground in Ashdod, causing no casualties or damage. Earlier reports of another rocket fired proved unfounded.

The Israel Defense Forces responded with an attack on two Hamas outposts, one in Gaza City and another in the Shanty refugee camp. Despite the rocket, IDF sources told Haaretz they believe relative quiet will be maintained in the next few days.

Meanwhile, the Israel Navy fired on a fishing boat that entered the no-sailing zone in the Gaza waters. The IDF believes Hamas and other organizations are using fishing boats to test the vigilance of patrolling navy ships and the reactions of the IDF.

Although the IDF regards Hamas as responsible for any rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, the army believes Friday's rocket was launched by one of the Islamist organizations in the Strip. The army hopes the attack over the weekend will restore a balance of deterrence, and does not believe Hamas will try to escalate the confrontation in the next few weeks. Other organizations may try to do it independently, the army warned.

Benjamin Netanyahu

On Friday, the U.S. Congress allocated $205 million to continue developing and producing the Iron Dome rocket interception system. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the move, saying the money will help protect Israeli civilians from Gaza rockets. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the step significantly strengthens Israel's defensive capability against rocket attacks, and he reaffirmed the depth of American support for Israel's security.

The preceding weekend 120 rockets and mortar shells were fired from Gaza, keeping tens of thousands of Israelis in communities near Gaza in bomb shelters. The barrage came soon after militants fired an anti-tank missile at a school bus operated by the Shaar Hanegev regional council, leaving one boy critically injured. The IDF attacked tens of targets in the Strip, killing 19 Palestinians and injuring more than 50. The Iron Dome system so far has intercepted eight rockets fired toward Ashdod and Ashkelon.

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