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Israeli airstrike kills Gaza militant

Israeli airstrike kills Gaza militant

Israeli aircraft struck a Palestinian rocket squad in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, as a new defense system to protect southern Israel from militants' rockets prepared to go online after years of development, the military said.
One Islamic Jihad militant was killed in the attack and two were critically wounded, the group said, including one who was brain dead but taken out of the morgue by his family and put on a respirator.
Gaza militants, including Islamic Jihad and the territory's Hamas rulers, had said over the weekend that they would cease fire if Israel did. It was not clear whether they were reneging on that pledge or whether the air strike hit a rogue group of militants ignoring the cease fire.
Weeks of stepped-up rocket and mortar attacks have drawn fears of renewed war and led to new calls in Israel for the military to deploy the $200 million Iron Dome anti-rocket system.
The Israeli military said the system should begin operating on Sunday near Beersheba, southern Israel's largest city. A second anti-missile battery will be deployed in another large southern city, Ashdod, the military added, without specifying an exact date.
Security officials said the new spate of rocket attacks from Gaza 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.
Military spokesman Capt. Barak Raz said the system was in an "evaluation stage," as any new system would be.
Even once deployed, Home Front Minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio on Sunday, the Iron Dome would still not provide full protection to residents of Israel's south.
The system uses cameras and radar to track incoming rockets and is supposed to shoot them down within seconds of their launch. It is meant to protect Israel from short-range rockets used by Palestinian militants to the south in Gaza.
Millions of Israeli civilians are within rocket range.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced last week that the new system was being put into place in southern Israel but gave no exact date for when it would start operating.
He also said Israel does not want the current round of violence to escalate.
The renewed hostilities have fed concerns of another large-scale Israeli military operation against Gaza militants. In December 2008, Israel invaded Gaza in response to years of rocket and mortar barrages on its southern communities, killing 1,400 people, including more than 900 civilians, and causing widespread destruction.
Thirteen Israelis also died.


Updated : 2021-10-25 05:50 GMT+08:00