Israel on Sunday stationed the first batteries of its “Iron Dome” short-range missile defence system in the south of the country, but stressed the initial deployment was experimental.

The unique multi-million dollar system was stationed outside the southern city of Beersheva, days after it was hit by several rockets fired from the Gaza Strip amid a rise in tensions and tit-for-tat violence.

But officials were quick to point out that the system, the first of its kind in the world, could not yet provide complete protection for the hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel.

“Israel has been under missile threat for 20 years, since the (1991) Gulf War. I do not want to foster the illusion that Iron Dome, which we are deploying today for the first time, will provide a complete or comprehensive answer,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet.

“Iron Dome is still in the experimental stage and we do not have the possibility of deploying batteries to protect every home, school, base and installation.”

So far, Israel has acquired just two batteries and no decision has been made yet on where to deploy the second unit.

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