Palestinian militants, mainly from the Jihad, have fired dozens of salvos of Qassams since Israel withdrew its last soldiers from the Gaza Strip.
In recent weeks, the homemade rockets hit several strategic facilities in the south of the country, including an Ashkelon power plant. Earlier this
week, three soldiers were lightly injured when a Qassam hit an army base north of the Gaza Strip.
In the absence of any action by the Palestinian Authority to stop terror originating from the Gaza Strip, and in light of the continued firing of
projectile rockets from the Gaza Strip at heavily populated Israeli communities, as well as strategic facilities in Israel, Israel had set up a 2.4
km (1.5 mile) buffer area in Northern Gaza is designed to stop rocket attacks.
On December 28th 2005
, coordination meetings were held between IDF officials and their Palestinian counterparts on the subject of warning the
Palestinian population in the northern Gaza Strip in order to ensure ist safety. A formal warning was communicated to the Palestinian security
apparatuses during the meetings, that as of 18:00hrs, anyone entering the buffer zone in the northern tip of the Gaza Strip would be "endangering
his life." The new restrictions will remain in force until further notice.
The IDF addressed the Palestinian population, via leaflets distributed from the air, in the areas from which terror activity is being carried out
against Israel. (There are no Palestinian villages in the zone, which corresponds to the site of three former Israeli settlements).
The Israeli-imposed restrictions came into effect along the border from Dec 28, 2005, 18:00hrs (16:00 GMT), according to warning leaflets dropped
with IAF aircraft on Gaza earlier.
To the citizens of the Gaza Strip
From the Commander of the IDF
For your safety, read this announcement carefully and act according to what
The IDF is going to conduct increased army activity in northern Gaza Strip
against terrorist organizations that are responsible for rockets hitting the
area of Israel.
For your own safety you are warned to stay away from the areas designated on the attached map, beginning on the 28/12 at 18:00 and until further
Whoever does not follow these warnings puts his/her life in real danger.
You must know that the terrorist organizations have turned you into hostages and human shields, and are against your own interests.
Commander of the IDF
Close to 18:00 hrs (12/28/05) the IDF began its attack against the terror organization responsible for the launching of Qassam rockets in the
northern Gaza Strip.
Operation „Blue Skies“ will be ongoing, not just an instant solution and would include the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and widespread
reconnaissance of the region. At the moment, the IDF has no intention of moving grounds troops into the GazaStrip
but plans to maintain the
buffer zone without bringing in the infantry. All that's needed are drones, watchtowers and the occasional artillery barrage and helicopter strike to
warn away those straying into the zone.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas condemned the move
, saying it was tantamount to re-occupying land Israel gave up in September when
troops quit Gaza after 38 years of military occupation. Palestinian Authority sources stated that police officers would not be evacuated from northern
Gaza due to operation “Blue Skies,” but eyewitnesses reported of entire police outposts being cleared.
The Israel Defense Forces shelled two Qassam rocket launch sites in the northern Gaza Srip before dawn Thursday morning,