An array of Palestinian militant groups launched rockets into the Mediterranean Sea off the Gaza Strip on Tuesday at the start of what they called their first-ever joint exercise, which Israeli media described as a show of force organized by Iran.
The exercise was announced on behalf of a joint command set up by the groups in 2018, which includes Hamas that runs Gaza, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and smaller armed groups
Eight rockets streaked through a cloudless sky in Gaza towards the Mediterranean after Abu Hamza, spokesman for Islamic Jihad, delivered a speech launching the drill.
It will include land and coastal exercises described by the groups as a test of their preparedness for any future confrontation with Israel.
Media reports said the drill was organized by the militants' sponsors in Tehran to demonstrate risks Israel could face if Iran comes under U.S. or Israeli attack in the waning days of the Trump administration.
On the eve of the exercise, a large portrait of Iranian military commander General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed last January in a U.S. attack in Iraq, was erected along Gaza's main coastal road.
Several major IDF exercises conducted by the Gaza Division and units on the northern border also appeared to have been given the Gaza factions a push to conduct the drill.
The drill has been accompanied by a mass public relations campaign, which includes special announcements, promotional videos and propaganda in which all the military branches are being glorified.
Journalists were also allowed to enter some military outposts to watch and document the exercise.
A few hours before the exercise, a rocker siren was heard in Kibbutz Kerem Shalom in the Eshkol Regional Council near the Gaza border.
The IDF later said one rocket had been launched that landed inside the Strip’s territory. Tuesday's Gaza missile display did not trigger any sirens in Israel, whose drones keep a close eye on Gaza and which employs a sophisticated missile interception system.