Iron Dome Successfully Intercepts Gaza Rocket for First Time

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The Iron Dome missile defense system on Thursday successfully intercepted for the first time a Grad rocket that was fired at the Israeli city of Ashkelon from the Gaza Strip.

Iron Dome's success Thursday marks the first time in history a short-range rocket was ever intercepted.

A rocket fired from Gaza is intercepted by Iron Dome short-range missile defense system over the city of Ashkelon on April 7, 2011.Credit: AFP

According to reports from the area, the interception could be seen in Israeli towns near northern Gaza. The second Iron Dome battery was positioned in the area of Ashkelon over the weekend, in addition to a battery already placed north of Be'er Sheva.

Following the attack on the bus, in which a 16-year-old boy was seriously wounded and the bus driver was hurt moderately, a barrage of 15 rockets and mortars were fired at southern Israel, most of them hitting open areas.

Defense authorities instructed residents in Israeli towns 4.5 kilometers from the Gaza Strip to stay in their protected areas. Several roads in the area were also blocked.

Last week, the Iron Dome anti-rocket system was deployed for the first time and the system has been working as an "operational experiment" since Sunday.

The Israeli-developed system uses cameras and radar to track incoming rockets and is supposed to shoot them down within seconds of their launch.

Security officials said the new barrage of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and public pressure had led the military to deploy the system, which is still being fine-tuned. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss operational decisions.

Meanwhile on Thursday, three rockets landed in an open area in the Negev region, as well as 15 mortar shells, following an attack from Gaza on a bus carrying children which wounded two people.