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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 December 2005, 13:18 GMT
Israel to enforce Gaza no-go zone
Israeli artillery on the northern Gaza border
An Israeli artillery barrage killed a Palestinian in Gaza on Thursday
Israel has dropped leaflets in Gaza to warn Palestinians that they will face lethal force if they enter a newly declared buffer zone near the border.

The Israeli-imposed restrictions will come into effect from 1800 (1600 GMT) on Wednesday, the leaflets say.

"Anyone who will not heed this warning is placing his or her life in immediate danger," the leaflets say.

The buffer area will be about 2.5km (1.5 miles) deep and is intended to stop rocket attacks by militant groups.

Palestinian officials have rejected the proposed buffer zone and called for Israel to re-engage in meaningful peace negotiations.

"The ways of buffer-zones, militarism, incursions, attacks, assassinations will just ... add to the cycle of violence and counter-violence," said senior negotiator Saeb Erekat in a BBC interview.

The leaflets, signed by the Israeli army command and dropped by air onto northern Gaza, include a map of the security zone and said it would be enforced "until further notice".

"For your own safety, read this statement carefully and act accordingly," the leaflet says in Arabic.

"Know that the terrorists have made you hostages and human shields and safeguard your interests," it continues.

Israeli troops and settlers were pulled out of Gaza earlier this year after 37 years of military occupation, but the territory's coastline and airspace and its borders with Israel remain under Israeli control.

Rocket attacks

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave the order to impose the buffer at a meeting with cabinet colleagues and security officials on Sunday.

The move followed talks on Thursday in which the prime minister told the army to do everything possible to stop rocket fire from the territory.

A rocket attack that day wounded four Israeli soldiers.

A Palestinian man was killed when the army responded by firing artillery shells at the launch site in a field it said was empty.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has asked militant groups to stop firing rockets.

But Islamic Jihad, blamed by Israel for the majority of the attacks, has reportedly rejected Mr Abbas's call, blaming Israel for a recent escalation in violence.

They say the rocket attacks are retaliation for raids in the West Bank, as well as air strikes on Gaza.


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