Israeli planes yesterday dropped leaflets in northern Gaza to warn Palestinians that they will be shot dead on sight if they enter a newly declared ‘buffer zone’ near the border with Israel.
The leaflets, signed by Israeli army command and written in Arabic, said the Israeli-imposed restrictions would come into effect from 6pm local time (1600 GMT) yesterday.
They warned: ‘Anyone who will not heed this warning is placing his or her life in immediate danger.’
The leaflets included a map of the zone and said it will be enforced ‘until further notice’, warning: ‘For your own safety, read this statement carefully and act accordingly.
‘Know that the terrorists have made you hostages and human shields and safeguard your interests.’
Palestinian National Authority officials have rejected the proposed zone of 2.5km (1.5 miles) deep, and called for meaningful peace negotiations.
But the Israelis claim it is needed to stop rocket attacks by militant groups.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave the order to impose the buffer zone at a meeting with cabinet ministers and security officials last Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Palestine Media Centre (PMC) reported that Sharon’s new Kadima, as well as Likud and Labour political parties, are in consensus on ‘keeping’ the Jewish colonies Israel built on Palestinian land it occupied in 1967.
The PMC said: ‘While Sharon’s new Kadima Party was paying lip service to an independent Palestinian state in its platform, his government has officially given the go-ahead to the expanding of colonial Jewish settlements inside and around Jerusalem as Israeli Jewish colonists set up 14 makeshift settlement outposts in the West Bank on Tuesday, out of 25 planned, thus pre-empting any practical possibility of creating a viable Palestinian state.
Meanwhile, Labour’s new leader Amir Peretz has agreed with Sharon’s plans ‘to keep’ these blocs, but on the basis of ‘leasing’ them from the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) instead of ‘annexing’ them.