Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Operation 'Blue Skies' underway, IDF pounds Gaza

Pictured: Leaflet distributed by the IDF showing the area marked "off limits".


At 6 p.m. Wednesday, as planned, IDF forces launched a large-scale operation, firing artillery rounds against targets in the northern Gaza Strip and at the areas in close proximity to the newly established ‘security strip,’ which is aimed at distancing Qassam launchers from the border with Israel.

The Israel Air Force is also due to join the operation to clear north Gaza of those not engaged in terror activity.

An hour before the operation commenced a Qassam rocket landed just south of Sderot in an open field. No injuries or damage were reported. The city’s “Red Dawn” alert system warned residents of the incoming rocket.

Earlier the army distributed leaflets to northern Gaza residents featuring a map indicating the limits of the buffer zone, which includes areas evacuated by Israel in the summer – the former settlements of Elei Sinai, Nissanit, and Dugit.

"Whoever ignores this warning is putting his life in genuine danger," the leaflet said. "Know that terror elements have turned you into hostages and a human shield and are undermining your interests."

Operation "Blue Skies" marks an IDF attempt to move into high gear when it comes to Qassam rocket attacks but to do so by offering a measured response and avoiding an escalation in the area. Army officials admitted the operation may reduce the number of rocket attacks on Israel but would not curb them completely.