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Middle east

Israeli defence shield blocks rocket attack on first day of operation

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-04-07

Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system launched into action for the first time Thursday, shooting down a rocket fired from Gaza, military sources confirmed.

AFP - Israel's Iron Dome short-range missile defence system on Thursday intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza for the first time, over the city of Ashkelon, an AFP correspondent said.

A military source confirmed the rocket had been brought down by the unique multi-million-dollar system, which came into operation on March 27, the first time a short-range interceptor has been deployed anywhere.

As the rocket came in from Gaza, the interceptor missile streaked up into the sky to hit it with the two trails converging in an explosion, said the AFP correspondent.

A military source told AFP this was the first time that Iron Dome had hit a rocket in an actual combat operation.

It was not immediately clear what kind of rocket it was.

The rocket fire from Gaza came after Palestinian militants in Gaza fired an anti-tank rocket at an Israeli school bus, critically wounding a teenager. Later militants fired dozens of mortars and rockets into Israel.

Israel responded with air raids and tank shells, killing one Palestinian and wounding 25

The first Iron Dome battery was deployed outside Beersheva, just days after the southern desert city was hit by several Grad rockets fired from Gaza.

Ashkelon, which has a population of some 113,000, has also recently come under attack from Grads, which have a range of up to 50 kilometres (30 miles).

The defence system, the first of its kind in the world and still at the experimental stage, is not yet able to provide complete protection against the hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel, officials have said.

Date created : 2011-04-07

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