Friday, April 15, 2011

New Israeli Missile Defense System Combat Tested; Anti-Tank Weapon Fired at School Bus; Western Activist Kidnapped, Killed

Israel's new 'Iron Dome' short-range missile defense system enjoyed some early success last week after a battery in Ashkelon intercepted a Grad rocket that fired from the Gaza strip.

The system has three main components - a tracking radar to detect the incoming projectile, a battle management and control system, and the missile launchers themselves. The manufacturers (Israel-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems) claim to be able to hit anything from a missile to a 155mm artillery shell in any weather condition. The system underwent comprehensive testing in late 2010 and was deemed operational by Defense Minister Ehud Barak last month.

Southern Israel has been bombarded by rockets and short range missiles from the Hamas controlled Gaza strip for the better part of the last decade, with the accuracy and payloads gradually increasing.
ELSEWHERE IN SOUTHERN ISRAEL: Shortly after the Iron Dome system's early success an anti-tank rocket was fired at an Israeli school bus in the Negev region along the Gaza border, wounding the driver and a 16 year old student on board. Hamas has claimed responsibility for the attack and the Israeli Defence Forces responded with artillery and helicopter gunships firing on targets inside the Gaza strip. The missile is thought to be a Russian-made Koronet- manufacture of the Koronet reportedly is only permitted inside Russia. The missile was reportedly sold to Syria and likely smuggled to the Gaza strip from there.

GAZA: The body of an Italian pro-Palestinian activist was found hanging in a Gaza apartment a few hours after he was abducted on Thursday. An al-Qaeda inspired Islamic group calling itself Monotheism and Holy War abducted 38 year old Vittori Arrigoni. He then appeared blindfolded and with cuts on his face in a video circulated online in which the group demanded Hamas released one of their jailed leaders hours before the International Solidarity Movement's activist body was found in the otherwise vacant apartment. Hamas claims it arrested two of the suspected kidnappers not far from where the body was found and were reportedly seeking a 3rd suspect.

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