Most of the tens of thousands of the Israeli ground troops in the Gaza Strip have been withdrawn. The move is seen as an apparent winding down of Israel Defense Forces (I.D.F.) ground operation against Hamas and an I.D.F. spokesperson said that the intent of the invasion – the destruction of a Hamas tunnel network leading into Israel, had been successful.
More than 1,800 Palestinians and 60 Israelis have been killed in the Gaza Strip since fighting broke out July 8. Even with the pullback, heavy fighting continued in some parts of Gaza, and 10 or more people were killed an Israeli airstrike allegedly hit near a U.N. shelter. Hamas vowed to continue its fight and thus the prospect of whether Israel could end the war unilaterally is not clear.
Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner confirmed the move in the Gaza Strip, saying that most of the I.D.F. ground troops had indeed moved out of Gaza. He said this was because of the success of the ground mission which began July 17, a mission to eradicate the tunnel network Hamas had used to carry out attacks inside Israel. He said that “this huge threat” had been rendered minimal.
By Gregory Baskin