5 die in strikes on Gaza; militants barrage Israel

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Israel says the newly introduced Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted dozens of the more than 190 rockets fired since the clashes erupted over the weekend, and military officials speculated this averted more casualties and damage.

“The vast majority of the rockets shot at Israeli cities were intercepted,” said Brig. Gen. Doron Gavish, commander of the defense unit that includes Iron Dome. “This is a new era in military history, there is an effective defense against rockets.”

Although military officials are quick to note that Iron Dome will not offer hermetic protection, its success rate raised hopes the military has found a way to rob militants of their most potent weapon — primitive, short-range rockets that have made life miserable for hundreds of thousands of Israelis by eluding their high-tech military for years.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Monday that the continued fire from Gaza “buries any chance of a territorial link between Gaza and the West Bank.” The Palestinians want both areas, which lie on opposite sides of Israel, for a future state, along with Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem.

Gaza and the West Bank are today ruled by dueling governments. Hamas is internationally shunned because of its refusal to renounce violence against Israel, and Israel’s peace talks with the West Bank government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stalled years ago.

Although the current fighting shows no signs of subsiding soon, both Hamas and Israel seem eager to avoid the kind of all-out war they waged three years ago.

As it has done since that conflict, Hamas has stayed out of the current clashes for fear of provoking a harsh Israeli retaliation. But that has not stopped other, smaller Gaza factions from attacking Israel, and Israel continues to hold Hamas ultimately responsible for any violence emanating from Gaza.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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