December 29, 2008 / 10:19 AM / in 11 years

Israel seals off Gaza periphery to journalists

An explosion is seen after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip December 29, 2008. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel ordered journalists out of areas abutting the Gaza Strip border on Monday, declaring a “closed military zone” there as an offensive in the Hamas-ruled coastal territory entered its third day.

An Israeli military spokesman cited the risk of retaliatory Palestinian rocket fire for the measure, which was being enforced in a buffer zone of 2km to 4km (1-2 miles) from Gaza.

But keeping the international media away from vantage points could help Israel maintain an element of surprise should it mount a ground assault. Such Israeli closures generally apply to civilians who do not live in the area being sealed off.

Editing by Katie Nguyen

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