JERUSALEM, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- A joint U.S.-Israeli defense drill designed to counter ballistic missile threats from Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and Gaza began Wednesday, Israeli officials said.
The exercise is the largest ever to take place on Israeli soil and will deal with a number of scenarios, Maariv said.
More than 1,000 Israeli soldiers and 1,000 members of the U.S. military European Command are participating in the exercise, dubbed Juniper Cobra, which runs through Nov. 5, the Israeli army said in a statement released Tuesday.
The army said it is the fifth series of biennial exercises conducted by the two countries to integrate missile and air defense systems.
During the two-week drill, a number of U.S. forces will be deployed to a various sites in Israel, the army said.
While the army stressed the extensive exercise is not in response to any world events, Israel Radio Wednesday quoted an unnamed Israeli military official saying it is in preparation for a faceoff with Iran.
Last month, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, chief of general staff, said while sanctions are the best option to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat, Israel has the right to defend itself.
In recent weeks, 17 American warships and transport planes loaded with air defense systems arrived in Israel ahead of the drill.