Gaza Rockets Strike Residential Neighborhood in Be'er Sheva

Rockets strike main urban area in Israel for first time since escalation began on Friday; Iron Dome has intercepted more than 30 rockets.

Two Grad rockets struck Be'er Sheva on Sunday afternoon, one hitting a school that was empty at the time and the other striking a parked car in a residential neighborhood. Homes were damaged and one person was reported to be in shock.

This marked the first time since the most recent round of escalation began in Israel's south on Friday that rockets succeeded in reaching a main urban area in Israel.

Be'er Sheva rocket March 11, 2012 (Eliyahu Hershkovitz)
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The Iron Dome system has intercepted 37 rockets since Friday. More than 90 rockets have fallen in Israeli territory during that time. The Iron Dome is designed to only intercept rockets identified as heading toward populated areas. 

Security officials said the Iron Dome systems performed extraordinarily. The systems use a missile called "Tamir" to intercept incoming rockets, and each missile is priced at approximately NIS 200,000. The economic implications of so many interceptions are obvious, but there are also other implications to take into account such as damage to property, injuries and compensation claims.

On Sunday morning, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he intends to define the multi-level antimissile interception system as a national security project. Barak is demanding faster deployment of more Iron Dome systems and the completion and deployment of the "Magic Wand" system designed to intercept long-range rockets.

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel has struck a strong blow against terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip over the past several days.

"We have collected a high price from them and we are still collecting," Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting. "We will continue to operate as long as it is necessary."

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