In the first stage of its plans to create a northern Gaza buffer zone, which is claimed to keep Palestinians from firing Qassam home made shells into Israel, Israeli air force Wednesday dropped leaflets urging Gazans to clear the area by 6 P.M.
The leaflets called on residents to leave the area where the former settlements of Nissanit, Eli Sinai and Doughit today lie in ruins which, after the army claimed that resistance fighters of the Islamic Jihad and other groups have used the sites to launch Qassam homemade shells against southern Israel.
The pamphlets warned that anyone spotted in the area after 6 P.M. Wednesday will be fired upon.
At the same time, army commanders handed Palestinian Authority security officials maps delineating the zones prohibited for Palestinian entry. This zone will be marked out by a fence, which runs one kilometer south to the evacuated settlements.
The new restrictions will remain in power until further notice, army said.
The buffer zone is one of a series of measures adopted by the Israeli government to prevent Qassam fire to the area south of Israeli city of Ashkelon.
Palestinian resistance fighters, mainly from the Islamic Jihad, have fired dozens of of Qassams in response to Israeli attacks and targeted killings in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In recent weeks, one home made shell landed near Ashkelon power plant in the south of Israel.
Earlier this week, four soldiers were lightly injured when a Qassam hit an army base north of the Gaza Strip.
On Tuesday, Israel Air Force helicopters fired a volley of missiles at targets in the Gaza Strip, striking sites and buildings believed to be used to launch Qassam attacks on Israel.
The air strike destroyed the buildings, leaving a big hole in the outer walls, shattering windows and burning the furniture. One missile was fired into each building, the Palestinians said.
Israeli jetfighters also struck six roads in Beit Lahia and a bridge near Beit Hanoun that was reportedly used by militants to access Qassam launchers.
Later, an Israeli warplane dropped a bomb on a road in northern Gaza, blasting a massive crater into the ground.