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Israeli, U.S. troops test launch Patriot missiles

JTA

November 12, 2012 | 10:29 am

U.S. soldiers west of Jerusalem, during "Austere Challenge 2012," a joint Israeli-hosted exercise on Oct. 23. Photo by Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

U.S. soldiers west of Jerusalem, during "Austere Challenge 2012," a joint Israeli-hosted exercise on Oct. 23. Photo by Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

Israeli and U.S. troops launched four Patriot missiles at decoy enemy missiles over the Mediterranean Sea.

Monday's launches were the last stages of Austere Challenge 12, a training exercise designed to increase military cooperation between the United States and Israel. The three-week exercise, which began last month and involves more than 2,500 American service personnel and 1,000 Israeli soldiers, is considered the largest joint exercise ever between the two countries.

The missiles were launched from Palmachim Air Force base in central Israel, located south of Tel Aviv.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak noted at the base that Israel is using its Iron Dome system to protect against a barrage of short-range missiles coming from the Gaza Strip in the last several days.

"We hope that it [this escalation] will be over quickly without a need to broaden it or intensify it," he said.

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