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WARFARE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Israel to Hit Gaza Homes Hiding Arms

July 21, 2006|From Times Wire Services

GAZA CITY — Israel killed three Palestinians and wounded 12 Thursday in the Gaza Strip, and it dropped leaflets warning residents that homes believed to contain militant weapons would be attacked.

An airstrike killed one militant preparing to launch an anti-tank rocket at Israeli troops in the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, an army spokesman said. Troops also killed two gunmen in the camp, witnesses and medics said.

A 10-year-old girl also died of wounds suffered in an airstrike a day earlier, doctors said.

Troops began pulling out of the refugee camp early today.

Israel also kept up the pressure from the sea, shelling a key coastal road used by emergency vehicles and others.

The army has adopted a new policy of attacking homes in civilian areas where weapons -- such as the homemade rockets frequently fired into Israel -- are secretly stored, military officials told the Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Arabic-language leaflets dropped over Gaza City warned that "anyone who has, or is keeping an arsenal, ammunitions or weapons in their house must destroy it or they will face dangerous consequences."

Israel started its Gaza offensive last month after Palestinian militants abducted Cpl. Gilad Shalit. At least 110 Palestinians, about half of them militants, have died in the fighting.

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