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After a month-long lull in Israel's southern towns, militants in the Gaza Strip fired a Qassam rocket into the western Negev Thursday evening. The rocket struck an open area near Sdot Negev at around 8 P.M. No one was hurt.

The last time a rocket struck Israeli soil was June 13. That rocket also struck an open area in the same region. No one was hurt in the incident.

At the end of May, an 18-year-old man sustained shrapnel wounds when a rocket struck his home's yard. Two more women suffered from shock in that incident.

The defense establishment announced on Wednesday that the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system developed to protect Israeli citizens from Qassams had aced its first live try.

Designed by state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., Iron Dome uses small guided missiles to blow up rockets. Israel plans to station the first working unit outside the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip next year.

"This was the first time Iron Dome was tested with the aim of a metal-to-metal result," an Israeli defense official said Wednesday, describing the mid-air interception. "The (target) rocket was completely destroyed."