Hamas staged major military exercises Tuesday to test its readiness in preparation for another terror war against Israel from Gaza.
The exercises involving 1,000 police and emergency services personnel were not meant to be seen as an "announcement of war," said a spokesman for the Islamist terrorist organization's interior ministry.
For the duration of the exercises, however, a state of emergency was observed in Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya, bordering Israel in the north, and Jabalia farther to the south.
The media was barred from approaching the area, but loud explosions could be heard from a distance, with hospitals and schools placed on alert.
Terrorists in Gaza have fought three wars against Israel since 2008, including 50-day Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
The terror enclave remains under an Israeli naval blockade to prevent the influx of weapons, even as Egypt has been implementing a buffer zone in the south of Gaza and cutting off the smuggling of weapons through tunnels there as well.
AFP contributed to this report.