NEW YORK, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Israel, struggling with rogue Palestinian missile launches of indigenous Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip, has deployed countermeasures.
While the Iron Dome anti-ballistic missile system has previously been deployed in southern Israel, the new positioning reportedly protects the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, which is now within rocket range.
Yeshiva World News, a New York publication, reported Monday that Israeli officials said they are pleased with the Iron Dome's performance in country's southern areas, claiming a kill rate of 75 percent of incoming rocket threats from the Palestinian, Hezbollah-controlled Gaza Strip.
Iron Dome is a mobile air defense system, developed by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, specifically designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells in all-weather situations. Iron Dome was declared operational and initially deployed last March 27 near Beersheba.
More than two dozen Israeli civilians have been killed in rocket attacks from Gaza Strip militants over the past 10 years. The consistent barrage of rockets from the Palestinian-controlled area led the Israelis to develop a series of missile defense.
Iron Dome is still being fine-tuned, with an Israeli army spokesman saying, "The Iron Dome is still being fully integrated into the (military)."
Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz last week visited an Iron Dome battery deployed in southern Israel. He met with Aerial Defense Network Commander Brig. Gen. Doron Gavish and the head of the Home Front Command Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg.
"I wish for the sake of the people of Israel that we wouldn't have to intercept more rockets, though I don't see that happening," Gantz said. "There are many challenges ahead."
"The visit was very important," Gavish said. "The chief of staff came to appreciate the level of preparedness of the battery. We presented the experience and progress we have achieved after recent escalations.
"The chief of staff commended the work and progress of the system, boosting the morale of the soldiers and commanders."
On Monday the Israeli army unveiled plans to stop buying military hardware and equipment from Rafael and to halt building additional Iron Dome stations, even though the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama last year allocated an additional $205 million in supplementary assistance to create four additional Iron Dome facilities, in addition to the two owned by the Israeli army.
Under the terms of an Israeli-U.S. agreement, Israel is to pay for one-third of the cost of Iron Dome stations with the United States donating the remainder of funds needed.