Israel deploys Patriot missiles to intercept rockets

Associated Press / July 16, 2006

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JERUSALEM -- Israel has deployed Patriot missile batteries in the northern city of Haifa to intercept rockets fired from Lebanon, a military spokeswoman said yesterday.

The American-made rockets had last been used in that area during the 1991 Gulf War, to protect against Scud missiles fired at Israel from Iraq, and were also deployed as a precaution before the latest fighting in Iraq.

The Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah fired rockets for the first time at Haifa on Friday.

``Israel has deployed anti- aircraft missiles. Given the latest events we are using all means at our disposal to protect our citizens" against rocket fire, an army spokeswoman said.

The Israeli news website Ynet said two Patriot batteries had been placed in Haifa. Israeli authorities are concerned about rockets fired from Lebanon hitting sensitive strategic sites in the Haifa area.

Witnesses saw one battery placed near the site of a rocket strike in Haifa on Friday.

Israel's Army Radio said the Patriots were most likely intended for use against longer range rockets than the Katyusha, and also as a precaution against the possibility of missiles being fired at Israel from Syria, a supporter of Hezbollah.

Haifa had been the deepest target in Israel ever struck by Hezbollah.

But yesterday, Hezbollah fired three barrages of rockets at the Sea of Galilee town of Tiberias, which is further south, injuring eight people.