Israel Points Missle at Iran, Syria While Tightening Gaza Blockade
7 Apr 09 | PTV and AJE
Israel tests and points a ballistic missile at Iran and Syria. Meanwhile, the Gaza blockade increases as Israel faces criticism for the death of a Palestinian motorist during demolition in West Bank.
Israel has test fired its Arrow II ballistic missile system to be prepared to counter what it calls Iranian and Syrian missile threat.
The defense ministry said Tuesday that it had carried out a successful test of its Arrow II interceptor missile which was jointly funded by Israel and the US to serve as a strategic shield against Iranian and Syrian ballistic missiles, the Israeli media reported.
“The arrow’s interception altitude has been enhanced. Of course, the higher you go, the further out you can reach as well. Our doctrine is to intercept enemy missiles as far away from Israeli skies as possible. That gives you time for another try if you miss,” Haaretz quoted an unnamed source as saying.
According to Israeli Radio, this was the Arrow’s 16th test launch, which has a 90 percent success rate.
Citing a defense source, Ynet reported on Tuesday that the Arrow had intercepted a target ‘Blue Anchor’ missile — meant to simulate an Iranian Shahab-3 — lunched from an Israeli aircraft over the Mediterranean.
The Iranian Shahab-3 has a range of up to 1,250 miles (2000 kilometers) and is capable of carrying a 1,000-760 kilogram warhead.
At least two Arrow batteries have been deployed in Israel, which has been testing the system to improve its performance at high altitudes and against multiple incoming missiles.
Israel, believed to be the only possessor of a nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, considers Iran and its nuclear program a threat to its existence.
Tehran says it merely seeks the civilian application of nuclear technology to which it has a right to as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Tel Aviv has repeatedly threatened to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. Tehran says it will not attack any country preemptively and that its domestically-manufactured missiles will only be used in the event of an attack on Iranian soil.
Israel faces fresh criticism after tightening its blockade on West Bank residents to celebrate the eight-day holiday of Passover.
Army officials said Tuesday that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak had given explicit orders to seal off the occupied Palestinian territories until the festivities end on Saturday April 18th.
“The Israeli army considers the holiday periods as very sensitive from the point of view of security,” a military spokesman said.
Tel Aviv sees a right to seal off occupied Palestinian towns and villages ahead of various Jewish occasions and events — allegedly to defend its territories against violence.
Israel’s consistent blockades have cost Palestinians dearly. A recent report says that unemployment and poverty rates in Palestinian territories are among the highest in the world.
The Palestinian National Authority’s official statistics agency also reported on April 3 that a steady decline is to be expected in the economies of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
In the four months since Israel’s war on Gaza, which left 70,000 people homeless, Tel Aviv has continued to keep the coastal strip in a comprehensive state of siege, barring necessary humanitarian aid and assistance from reaching the war-hit Palestinians.
The West Bank is the scene of an aggressive Israeli abduction campaign and increasing Israeli land-grabbing activities.
Israeli police have shot dead a Palestinian motorist they say tried to drive into them during the demolition of the home of a digger driver who killed three Israelis last year.
Micky Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesman, said the motorist tried to hit a group of officers at a checkpoint near the house in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday.
“The Palestinian drove his car toward the border guards and lightly wounded three of them in the legs,” he said.
“An officer on the scene then shot in his direction and killed him.”
Heavy security had been deployed in the area while the part of the family home in which Husam Dweiyat had lived was demolished as a deterrent against future attacks on Israelis.
Last month, Dweiyat’s parents lost an appeal in Israel’s supreme court against the order to demolish part of their home, despite a military commission ruling in 2005 that such a policy was ineffective.
Police described the incident, which also injured 20 people, on Jerusalem’s Jaffna Road on July 2 as a “terrorist attack”, but a lawyer for Dweiyat’s family say he was suffering from a mental illness.
Dweiyat was shot dead at the scene by police and a passerby.
Three weeks later, another Palestinian driving a digger injured 16 people in west Jerusalem before being killed by police.
In the latest such attack last month, a Palestinian was killed after his vehicle crushed a police car and hit other vehicles.
Israeli officials said the demolitions were needed to stop the spate of apparent attacks, but human rights groups have called them collective punishment.