GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – The Israeli military widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory’s Hamas rulers, sending its aircraft to attack two buildings used by both Hamas and foreign media outlets.
The Israeli military also appeared to take over the frequencies of the radio stations of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group to broadcast a recorded, Arabic-language warning to the people of Gaza to stay away from Hamas installations and personnel.
“To the people of Gaza, Hamas is playing with fire and gambling with your fate,” said the message, which was broadcast every five minutes. “The Israel Defense Force is moving toward the second phase of its operation. For your safety, you should stay away from Hamas infrastructure and personnel.”
The message did not say what the “second phase” was, but thousands of Israeli troops are massed near the Gaza border, awaiting an order to invade should Israeli leaders decide on that course. Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon told Army Radio on Sunday that Israel has to be prepared to widen the operation if militants don’t back down.
The military spokesman’s office said it could not immediately confirm it was broadcasting this message, but said it has issued similar warnings over the radio several days ago.
The attack on the second media center shattered a lull in rocket attacks from Gaza that had taken hold the previous night and coincided with Egyptian-led efforts to negotiate an end to the five-day-old confrontation.