Fearing escalation, Israel deploys Iron Dome in Beersheba
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Fearing escalation, Israel deploys Iron Dome in Beersheba

Missile defense battery joins those already operating in Gaza periphery as violence along border intensifies

An Iron Dome missile defense system deployed near the southern Israeli town of Beersheba in 2014. (Flash90/File)
An Iron Dome missile defense system deployed near the southern Israeli town of Beersheba in 2014. (Flash90/File)

Israel has deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries in the southern cities of Beersheba and Ofakim, it was announced Saturday, amidst concerns of increased rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

According to Ynet, the two batteries join those deployed in Sderot and Netivot in recent weeks as tensions with Palestinians have increased.

A rocket fired into Israel overnight exploded in the Eshkol region, causing no injuries.

While communities near Gaza have suffered the brunt of rocket-fire from Gaza throughout the years, Beersheba has also seen rocket attacks during times of conflict.

The Gaza Strip had been mainly calm during the recent unrest, but clashes along the border Friday, in which seven Palestinians were killed, heightened fears that a wider Palestinian uprising, or intifada, could erupt.

Riots broke out Friday east of Gaza City and Khan Yunis along the border with the Jewish state. The Israeli army said there had been “multiple violent attempts to storm the border fence” and “1,000 rioters infiltrated the buffer zone,” throwing a “grenade, rocks and rolled burning tyres” at the soldiers.

“After firing warning shots, forces on site responded with fire towards main instigators in order to prevent their advance and disperse the riot,” a statement said.

Seven Palestinians were killed, including a 15-year-old, and 145 were wounded, medics said.

A Palestinian protester hurls stones at Israeli soldiers during clashes on the Israeli border in eastern Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015.  (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A Palestinian protester hurls stones at Israeli soldiers during clashes on the Israeli border in eastern Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

It was the worst day of violence in the Palestinian enclave since last summer’s war between Hamas and Israel.

The clashes came as Hamas’s chief in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, called the violence an intifada and urged further unrest.

On Saturday further rioting was reported along the border, with dozens of youths protesting and burning tires near the Erez Crossing.

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