The U.S. and Israel simulated rocket attacks during their largest-ever joint military drill Wednesday, October 24, just as real ones fired from Gaza exploded in southern Israel, the Associated Press reported. U.S. military officials insisted the joint exercise, called Austere Challenge 2012, was planned long before the latest flare-up between Israel and Hamas-ruled Gaza. About 1,000 troops brought in from the U.S. are in Israel alongside a similar number of Israeli troops. An additional 2,500 U.S. troops based in Europe and the Mediterranean are participating in the drill. The armies say they are practicing their ability to work together to thwart a variety of threats that face Israel. The exercise will continue for about three weeks. “Make no mistake. The U.S. is 100 percent committed to the security of Israel. That commitment drives this exercise,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin.