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Israel texts Palestinians in Gaza

Nov. 17, 2012 12:12 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 17, 2012 11:09 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel on Friday warned residents of the Gaza Strip to stay away from Hamas operatives, Palestinians who received the messages said and the army confirmed.

"The messages were sent to 12,000 residents of the Gaza Strip," an army spokeswoman told Ma'an. "It warned them to stay away from Hamas operatives," she said.

Rana Baker, a Palestinian blogger in Gaza, said her father received one of the messages. She uploaded a picture of a message that showed the sender as "IDF".

"The next phase is on the way. Stay away from Hamas elements," it read.

On Thursday the Israeli army said it dispersed leaflets above several locations in the Gaza Strip warning residents to stay away from Hamas and other armed groups.

"The leaflets stress that Hamas is dragging the region toward violence, and that the IDF is prepared to defend the residents of the State of Israel until quiet is restored to the region," an army statement said at the time.

The text of the leaflets said: "For your own safety, take responsibility for yourselves and avoid being present in the vicinity of Hamas operatives and facilities and those of other terror organizations that pose a risk to your safety.

"Hamas is once again dragging the region to violence and bloodshed. The IDF is determined to defend the residents of the State of Israel. This announcement is valid until quiet is restored to the region."

The leaflets were signed: "Israel Defense Forces Command."
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