Gaza Border Towns Appeal to Barak Over Deployment of Anti-rocket System

Only 2 Iron Dome batteries have been approved, with officials saying 6 to 8 are needed to protect Gaza-area towns.

Leaders of communities bordering on the Gaza Strip have sent a letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak Thursday, demanding to learn when the government plans to deploy the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, developed to protect the western Negev from incoming Qassam rockets.

The motivation behind the missive, the signatories wrote, was recently received information, according to which, and "contrary to the promises we and all Israelis have received in the last three years, no budget will be allotted to the massive deployment needed to protect the southern frontline."

Defense officials said that despite the need for between six to eight anti-rocket batteries to protect Gaza-area towns, approval has been granted for the manufacture of just two of these systems. In recent weeks, officials began deliberations on the development of a third system.

The letter was signed by the head of Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council, Alon Schuster, head of Hof Ashkelon Regional Council Meir Ifrah, head of the Eshkol Regional Council, Haim Yalin and David Buskila, S'derot's mayor.

Visiting Ministry of Defense director general Udi Shani, who was on a tour of the south on Thursday, reportedly told community chiefs that Barak, who was in the midst of a visit to the United States, is discussing the possibility of U.S. funding for the project with top Washington officials.

Speaking with Be'er Sheva mayor Rubik Danilovich, Shani said that Israel clearly was not "satisfying with two systems," adding that the government would do "anything to get more Iron Dome batteries."

On Sunday, Yalin, the Eshkol council chief, said that he would petition the High Court to try and push the government to deploy its Iron Dome as soon as possible.