GAZA, (Reuters) – Israel declared a new "buffer zone" within part of the northern Gaza Strip from 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Wednesday to try to stop militants firing rockets, leaflets dropped to warn Palestinians said.
"Anyone who will not heed this warning is placing his or her life in immediate danger," said the leaflet.
It included a map that appeared to outline a swathe of the territory where thousands of Palestinians live. The army said the areas were uninhabited former Jewish settlements.
There is no plan for ground forces to re-enter Gaza, three months after Israel withdrew troops to end 38 years of rule in the territory. The zone is to be enforced with air strikes and shelling.
"The Israeli army will carry out intensive military actions in the northern areas of the Gaza Strip against the terrorist elements who fire rockets against the State of Israel," they said.
The new zone is in addition to heavy Israeli artillery fire and missile strikes on northern Gaza in the past week in a bid to halt the firing of rockets.
The makeshift rockets rarely cause casualties but could complicate Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon”s bid for re-election in a March 28 poll. Sharon”s rightist rivals have denounced Israel”s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in September as a surrender to violence that harms Israeli security.