JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli aircraft struck a Palestinian rocket squad in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, as a new defense system to protect southern Israel from militants' rockets prepared to go online after years of development, the military said.
Two Islamic Jihad militants were killed in the attack and one was critically wounded, said the group, which did not specify whether they were in the process of launching rockets.
Gaza militants, including Islamic Jihad and the territory's Hamas rulers, had said over the weekend that they would cease fire if Israel did. It was not clear whether they were reneging on that pledge or whether the air strike hit a rogue group of militants ignoring the cease fire.
Weeks of stepped-up rocket and mortar attacks have drawn fears of renewed war and led to new calls in Israel for the military to deploy the $200 million Iron Dome anti-rocket system.
The Israeli military said the system should begin operating on Sunday near Beersheba, southern Israel's largest city. A second anti-missile battery will be deployed in another large southern city, Ashdod, the military added, without specifying an exact date.
Security officials said the new spate of rocket attacks from Gaza and public pressure had led the military to deploy the system, which is still being fine-tuned. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss operational decisions.
Labels: Ashdod» Ashkelon» Barak» Beersheba» Eshkol» Gaza» Gaza Rocket Attacks Again» Hamas» Hamas Rockets» Hezbollah» Hizbullah» Iron Dome» Katyusha rockets» Qassams» Sderot» Tamir