Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his country's new missile defense system has successfully shot down two rockets fired into Israel from Gaza.
The interception involving Israel's "Iron Dome" system took place Thursday, a day of heavy rocket and mortar fire from Hamas-ruled Gaza into southern Israel.
Israeli defense officials say the interceptor missiles hit rockets that appeared to be aimed at the southern city of Ashkelon. They say the rockets were launched by suspected Gaza militants.
Mr. Netanyahu said Thursday Israel will take all necessary action, offensive and defensive, to protect its citizens.
A rocket fired from Gaza is intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome short-range missile defence system over the city of Ashkelon on April 7, 2011.
The interception took place after militants fired a rocket that hit a school bus in southern Israel, wounding two people.
Palestinians say after the bus strike, Israeli shelling into Gaza killed at least four people and wounded more than 30.
Israel's army says at least 45 rockets and mortars were fired Thursday into southern Israel from Gaza, including one projectile that hit a house.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner condemned strikes into southern Israel, calling attacks on innocent civilians "abhorrent."
In March, the Israeli government announced it had decided to deploy the "Iron Dome" system in response to an increase in mortar and rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel. The system is believed capable of shooting down rockets fired from a range of five to 70 kilometers.
Meanwhile, the World Bank says the Palestinian Authority is well positioned to establish an independent state, but that Israeli restrictions are stifling prospects for sustained economic growth. In a report published Thursday, the bank praised Palestinians' progress in delivering public services and institution-building.
The World Bank also expressed concern about the staggering 37.4-percent unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
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