Israel to deploy 5th Iron Dome anti-missile battery
The Israeli Ministry of Defense announced Sunday that the Air Force was due to deploy a fifth Iron Dome anti-missile battery in coming weeks, Xinhua reported.
In a statement sent to Xinhua, the ministry's Defense Research and Development Division "successfully completed trials testing the upgraded operational capability of the Iron Dome system."
In the past few days, the Israel's Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) held "a series of trials are designed to expand and improve the operational capabilities as we face an unprecedented array of threats."
The IMDO termed the improvements a "significant upgrade in the operational capabilities of the Iron Dome system."
In their first year of operation, the four existing mobile batteries deployed in areas close to the Gaza Strip have succeeded in downing more than 80 percent of Grad and Kassam rockets fired out of the coastal enclave at Israeli targets.
There are more than ten thousand residents living in dozens of towns and kibbutz farming villages in the area.
Since Israel's 2005 pullout from Gaza, Palestinian militants from an array of groups, including Hamas, which controls the area, have fired over 10,000 rockets and mortars at cities and towns in an arc upwards of 40 km away, causing death and destruction.
Two weeks ago, Palestinian militants fired nearly 80 rockets into towns and farming villages surrounding Gaza, wounding five people, among them foreign workers.
Last Sunday, the Israeli government unanimously approved a recommendation by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to completely fortify all Israeli communities in a 4.5 to 7 km radius of Gaza.