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Israel begins withdrawal of thousands of troops from Gaza



Israeli soldiers inspect a tunnel in Gaza

Israel has begun withdrawal of thousands of troops from Gaza, saying it will concentrate its efforts on the main enclave of the southern city of Khan Younis.

According to its authorities, Israel is pulling some troops from Gaza in a possible precursor to a scaled-back offensive against Hamas.

The military said in a statement on Monday that five brigades, or several thousand troops, were being taken out of Gaza in the coming weeks for training and rest.

Earlier on Sunday, the Army announced the troop withdrawal without specifying how many forces were leaving.

Speaking, army spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said: “The objectives of the war require prolonged fighting, and we are preparing accordingly.”

The withdrawal comes after weeks of intense fighting that has killed hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israelis.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas’s rocket launchers, tunnels, and military infrastructure, while Hamas says it is defending Gaza from Israeli aggression.

The current situation in Gaza is tense and unstable, as the war defied international efforts to broker a ceasefire.

Israel had launched a ground offensive into Gaza to uproot Hamas’s rocket launchers, tunnels, and military infrastructure, says it is defending itself from Hamas’s attacks, which reached as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Hamas, on its part, fired thousands of rockets into Israel, aiming to inflict casualties and damage on Israeli civilians and infrastructure.

Hamas, in a statement, said it is resisting Israel’s occupation and blockade of Gaza, which have caused humanitarian and economic crises.

The civilian population in Gaza is suffering the most from the war, as many have been killed, injured, or displaced by the Israeli airstrikes and shelling.

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Gaza’s health system is overwhelmed and struggling to cope with the influx of wounded and sick people.

The international community has condemned the violence and called for an immediate end to the hostilities.

The United Nations, Egypt, Qatar, and other mediators have been trying to negotiate a truce between Israel and Hamas, but so far without total success, except the exchange of captives and prisoners of war.

The war has also sparked protests and clashes in the West Bank, Israel, and other countries, where Palestinians and their supporters have expressed their anger and solidarity with Gaza.

Some of these demonstrations have turned violent and resulted in deaths and injuries.

Israel says more than 8,000 militants have been killed, without providing evidence, blaming Hamas militants for the high civilian death toll.

It said the militants embed itself within residential areas, including schools and hospitals.

The war has displaced some 85% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, sending swells of people seeking shelter in Israeli-designated safe areas that the military has nevertheless bombed.

Palestinians are left with a sense that nowhere is safe in the tiny enclave.

With tensions remaining high across the region, the U.S. announced Monday that it would be sending an aircraft carrier strike group home and replacing it with an amphibious assault ship and accompanying warships.

Israel had vowed to crush Hamas’ military and governing capabilities in its war, which was sparked by the militant group’s Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, which killed 1,200 people, with some 240 people taken hostage.

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Israel responded with a blistering air, ground and sea offensive.

The Health Ministry in Gaza claimed that Israel has killed more than 21,900 people in Gaza, two-thirds of them women and children, but failed to differentiate between civilians and militants in the count.

In the meantime, Israel maintains control over Gaza’s airspace, sea access, and most of its land crossings, and imposes a blockade on the territory.

The status of Gaza and its relationship with Israel remains a contentious issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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