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Israel successfully tests naval air defense system

FILE - Israeli sailors walk on a pier near the first of four German-made Sa'ar 6 corvette warships, in Haifa, Israel, Dec. 2, 2020. Israel on Monday, ...

FILE - Israeli sailors walk on a pier near the first of four German-made Sa'ar 6 corvette warships, in Haifa, Israel, Dec. 2, 2020. Israel on Monday, ...

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel on Monday said it successfully tested a new naval air defense system, intercepting a series of threats in what officials called a key layer of protection against Iran and its proxies in the region.

The “C-Dome” system is a naval version of the Iron Dome, which has been used to shoot down rockets fired from the Gaza Strip for the past decade. The C-Dome is being installed on Israel's latest-generation corvette warships, which protect Israel's coastline and offshore natural gas assets in the Mediterranean.

The tests simulated a number of incoming threats, including rockets, cruise missiles and drones, the Defense Ministry said.

“The systems that we are developing as part of Israel’s multi-tier missile defense array enable us to operate against Iranian proxies in the region and defend against their weapon systems, which are constantly being upgraded,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said. “We continue to be two steps ahead of them and we will continue developing and upgrading our capabilities in order to maintain security superiority in the region.”

The ministry said the tests were conducted recently, but declined to give a precise timeline.

The C-Dome is to become part of Israel's multilayer missile defense system — which includes weapons capable of intercepting everything from long-range missiles to short-range rockets.

The test comes at a time of heightened tensions. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group launched a pair of drones into Israeli airspace last week, and Iran is believed to be close to signing a new international nuclear deal with global powers that will give it relief from crippling sanctions. Israel opposes the deal, and fears that Iran will divert newly released funds to proxies like Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has made no secret that it would target Israel's gas platforms if fighting were to break out. Israel and Hezbollah fought a monthlong war in 2006. During that fighting, Hezbollah fired a missile that struck an Israeli warship, killing four Israeli soldiers.