World / Middle East

Israel deploys new anti-missile battery near Tel Aviv

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-11-17 21:14

Israel deploys new anti-missile battery near Tel Aviv

An Iron Dome rocket shield battery is deployed near Tel Aviv Nov 17, 2012. The Israeli military rushed a fifth Iron Dome anti-missile battery into service on Saturday and deployed it in the Tel Aviv area, the army said. [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM - The Israeli army deployed a fifth Iron Dome anti-missile battery near Tel Aviv on Saturday, after rocket barrages were launched at the city amid Operation Pillar of Defense.

The system is prepared to intercept medium-range missiles fired by militants in Gaza towards central Israel. It has shown improved interception capabilities while tested in June.

The system was supposed to be deployed in 2013 preparing for a possible conflict with Iran. However, since recent developments between the Palestinian Gaza-bound military groups and Israel, it was put into use now.

Two rocket barrages were launched towards Tel Aviv in the past 36 hours. At least one rocket landed southern of Tel Aviv on Friday noon, police sources confirmed to Xinhua.

On Thursday, two rockets were fired towards Tel Aviv for the first time since the city was bombarded with missiles in the 1991 Gulf War with Iraq.

In light of recent developments, the Tel Aviv municipality has opened the public shelters for the city's residents and provided a map with their locations.

As Operation Pillar of Defense enters the fourth day, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) keep preparing for a possible ground entry to the strip as the cabinet approved drafting 75,000 reservists on Friday.

Recent reports in local media have fueled the speculation around a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip as imminent. "We're going to significantly aggravate the operation," a state official told the Ynet news website on Friday morning.

After a relatively quiet night in Israel's south, about 50 rockets were fired Saturday morning towards Israeli southern communities.

Four Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded from shrapnel after a rocket fell in the Eshkol regional council.

On Saturday noon another rocket launched from the Gaza Strip directly hit a house also in the Eshkol regional council. Damages were caused to the house but no injuries were reported.

Since the operation started on Wednesday, with the assassination of the chief of the Hamas' military wing Ahmed Jabri, 650 rockets were landed in Israeli territory. The Iron Dome batteries in the south intercepted thus far about 219 rockets, according to data provided by the IDF.

Since Wednesday, the Israeli Air Force air-raided more than 800 targets in the Gaza Strip, including caches of long-range missiles and chief militants in the Gaza Strip headquarters of militant groups and missiles-launch pads as well as other targets related to militant infrastructure like smuggling tunnels.

According to Palestinian reports, 35 people were killed, some 300 civilians were wounded in the Israeli attacks on the strip.

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