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GAZA CONFLICT

3 killed as Israeli troops hunt weapons

GAZA CITY -- Israel's army dropped leaflets yesterday warning residents of attacks on homes believed to be hiding militant weapons, as air and ground forces raided a Gaza refugee camp for a second day, killing three Palestinians.

The army has adopted a new policy of attacking homes in civilian areas where weapons, such as the homemade rockets routinely fired into Israel, are secretly stored, military officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give information to the media.

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."

The Israeli offensive began after Hamas-linked militants captured an Israeli soldier in a June 25 cross-border raid.

More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in the violence, the UN reported. Many of the victims were gunmen, but at least 16 were minors. Israeli forces have mostly attacked government compounds and open areas militants use to fire rockets toward Israel.

The offensive has continued as Israel waged a new campaign in Lebanon against Hezbollah. That campaign began July 12 after guerrillas crossed the border and captured two soldiers.

Yesterday, Israeli aircraft carried out a series of strikes against Palestinian militants in the Mughazi refugee camp in central Gaza, the army said. Two militants were killed and at least 15 people, many of them civilians, were wounded, Palestinian medical officials said.

Earlier yesterday, a Palestinian teenager was killed in Mughazi as militants and troops exchanged fire, doctors said. A 10-year-old girl also died of wounds suffered in an airstrike Wednesday.

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