Israel on Sunday kicked off a five-day nationwide defence drill to prepare the public for emergencies and test the response of security forces and emergency crews, according to the military. The fourth annual drill, dubbed "Turning Point 4," will include a series of alerts as part of field training exercises in various parts and a 90-second siren throughout the country on Wednesday.
Schools will take part in the siren drills, with teachers leading students to designated safe areas where they will wait for 10 minutes.
Lebanese media reports said residents of several south Lebanon towns heard blasts and gunfire inside Israel on Saturday night, an indication of the beginning of the drill, AFP reported. Israeli officials said the exercise was planned in advance and not related to any specific threat, but the move has already been criticized by Lebanon.
On his part, Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the drill was an annual event aimed at learning lessons from the 2006 war with Hizbullah. "We have no intention of starting a war in the north," Barak told reporters ahead of a weekly cabinet meeting.