Israel on Sunday prepared to deploy the first units of its recently-developed Iron Dome anti-missile system to battered Israeli towns within range of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is already warning that the Iron Dome will not be able to stop all Palestinian missile attacks emanating from Gaza.
Gaza-based terrorists have been firing an increasing number of short-range Kassam and more advanced Grad missiles into southern Israel over the past week. Last week, several missiles reached as far north Rishon Lezion and Yavne, towns just 10 miles south of Tel Aviv.
Many of the missiles have been aimed at the port city of Ashdod. In one attack last Friday, a synagogue and several homes sustained damaged from a Grad missile.
The Iron Dome will operate by using an advanced radar to detect Palestinian missile launches, and will use small interceptor missiles to shoot them down.
But the system has not been put into full production yet, and only two units are ready. They will be positioned near the coastal city of Ashkelon, which is dangerously close to Gaza, and Beersheva, the “capital of the Negev.”
The hasty deployment was the result of pressure by southern residents. But Netanyahu cautioned that even Ashkelon and Beersheva should not breathe a sigh of relief, just yet.
“I don’t want to create the illusion that Iron Dome, which we are setting up for the first time today, will prove a full or comprehensive answer,” Netanyahu told Israelis, explaining that the Iron Dome can still be accurately described as “experimental.”
Netanyahu went on to stress that the only real solution is to create a strong deterrence and to hit Gaza terrorists before they have a chance to attack Israel.