(Corrects 6th paragraph to show two batteries paid for by
By Dan Williams
JERUSALEM, July 15 Israel has found funding for
three new Iron Dome rocket interception batteries, an Israeli
official said on Tuesday, a week into its conflict with
Palestinian militants in Gaza.
Israel had seven Iron Domes set up to shoot down missiles
when cross-border fighting with Hamas-led militants surged on
July 8, and has since brought two more into service, Israel's
Defence Ministry said.
Speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, the Israeli
official said that as a result of the Gaza crisis, three new
Iron Dome units were now "in the pipeline".
Israel accepted the terms of an Egyptian-proposed truce on
Tuesday to end its air strikes and naval barrages on Gaza that
Palestinian officials say have killed at least 184 people,
mostly civilians, since Tuesday last week.
But Hamas, which controls Gaza, did not immediately follow
suit and promise to end rocket attacks on Israeli territory,
saying it had not been consulted by Cairo.
The Israeli official did not expand on where the money for
the new rocket interceptors came from. But Yair Ramati, head of
the Defence Ministry's missile defence agency, told reporters at
the weekend that all but two of the Iron Dome batteries in the
field were paid for with U.S. grants.
The U.S. embassy in Israel did not immediately comment about
the planned increase in the Iron Dome deployment on Tuesday.
Before the Gaza crisis, Israeli officials had said they
needed 13 Iron Domes to provide sufficient nationwide protection
on the Palestinian front as well as volatile borders with
Lebanon and the Egyptian Sinai. But some predicted Israel would
fall short of that number given deep defence budget cuts.
Israeli defence industry sources have said in the past that
Iron Dome batteries cost about $50 million each but added that
this would be reduced as state-owned manufacturer Rafael
Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. refined its production techniques.
Israeli and U.S. officials said Iron Dome, which is designed
to shoot down rockets threatening to hit residential areas while
ignoring those falling wide, has scored a 90 percent success
rate during the Gaza fighting.
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Andrew Heavens)