'IDF source: Missile launch, IAF drill not related to Iran'

Defense official denies a connection as the military, Home Front exercises, test launch are put into the context talks on Iran strike.

Airforce plane in Italy 311 (photo credit: Courtesy: IDF Spokesman)
Airforce plane in Italy 311
(photo credit: Courtesy: IDF Spokesman)
A senior IDF said on Thursday that the test launching of a missile and a joint Air Force exercise with Italy had no connection to the public discussion currently taking place on the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran, Israel Radio reported. The radio station quoted unnamed IDF official as calling such speculation "absolute nonsense."
All of the exercises and the test launch, the source said, were planned long in advance.
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A flurry of media attention has been focused in recent days and weeks on the possibility that the government is advancing preparations for a military strike on Iran. The IDF exercises and the test launch were put into the context of a strike on Iran by media outlets and commentators both in Israel and overseas.
In addition to a missile test and the announcement of the Air Force exercise, air-raid sirens rang out across the greater Tel Aviv area on Thursday morning as part of an extensive drill conducted by the IDF Home Front Command simulating a missile attack.
The public was given little warning of the exercise, which involved all the emergency services and the handing out of gas masks.
Meanwhile, details of the Air Force exercise were released on Wednesday, in the shadow of intensive and controversial media reports over a possible Israeli attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The same day, Israel test-fired a missile from the Palmahim Air Force Base south of Rishon Lezion that was heralded by Defense Minister Ehud Barak as an important success in the nation’s strategic capabilities.
Foreign media reports said the missile was likely a Jericho 3 missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
The smoke trail from the launch was seen by many residents of the Central region in the sunny morning sky.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report