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Israel reduces troops in south Gaza, Egypt to host new talks

Israel reduces troops in south Gaza, Egypt to host new talks
epa11264359 An Israeli tank along the border with Gaza in southern Israel , 07 April 2024. Israel marks six months since the October 07 attacks, as 134 hostages are currently still being held captive in Gaza, according to the Israeli IDF. More than 33,000 Palestinians and over 1,450 Israelis have been killed, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), since Hamas militants launched an attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip on 07 October 2023, and the Israeli operations in Gaza and the West Bank which followed it. EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN EPA-EFE/ABIR SULTAN

JERUSALEM/CAIRO April 7 (Reuters) - Israel said on Sunday it had withdrawn more soldiers from southern Gaza, leaving just one brigade, as it and Hamas sent teams to Egypt for fresh talks on a potential ceasefire in the six-month conflict.

  • Israel pulls all but one military brigade from south Gaza
  • Egypt to host new round of talks with Israel and Hamas
  • Six months of war have devastated Gaza

By Ari Rabinovitch and Nidal al-Mughrabi

Israel has been reducing numbers in Gaza since the start of the year to relieve reservists and is under growing pressure from its ally Washington to improve the humanitarian situation, especially after last week’s killing of seven aid workers.

The military spokesperson did not give details on reasons for withdrawing soldiers or numbers involved. But Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said the troops will be preparing for future operations in Gaza.

Both Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls Gaza, confirmed they were sending delegations to Egypt.

Hamas wants any deal to bring about an end to the war and withdrawal of Israeli forces. Israel has said that, after any truce, it would topple Hamas, which is sworn to its destruction.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there would be no deal without a hostage release and that he would not cave to international pressure. Hamas says an agreement must include freedom of movement of residents across the Gaza Strip.

More than 250 hostages were seized and some 1,200 people killed during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, according to Israeli tallies. More than 33,100 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli offensive, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

Around 130 hostages are still being held in Gaza. Asked about troop withdrawals from the enclave, Israel’s Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi told reporters that the military was adapting its methods to what has been and will be a long war.

Gallant said Israel will press on with the war until Hamas no longer controls Gaza or threatens Israel as a military group.

“The forces are exiting and preparing for their next missions,” Gallant said at a meeting with military officials, according to a statement from his office, and “also their coming mission in the Rafah area”.

 

PALESTINIAN HOPES

Israel says an incursion into the Rafah area, near the border with Egypt, is needed to eliminate Hamas but anxious foreign powers have said it could exact an unacceptable toll on civilians, with more than a million people sheltering there.

Israel says it will evacuate civilians before launching an incursion.

Palestinian residents of the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, which has come under Israeli bombardment in recent months, said they had seen Israeli forces leaving the centre of the city and retreating to eastern districts.

Medics said they found at least 12 Palestinian bodies in the area. Some residents from Khan Younis, who have been sheltering in Rafah, began returning to their neighbourhoods after the Israeli troops left.

“It seems at the end it may be a happy Eid,” said Imad Joudat, 55, who lives with his eight-member family in a tent in Rafah, referring to the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday that starts mid-week.

“The occupation withdrew forces from Khan Younis, the Americans are pressuring after some foreigners were killed and Egypt is holding a big round with the Americans, the Israelis, Hamas and Qatar. This time we are hopeful,” Joudat told Reuters via a chat app.

Israel is under increased pressure from the United States, with President Joe Biden demanding that it improve humanitarian conditions in Gaza and work towards a ceasefire, and saying that U.S. support could depend on that.

It was the first time Biden, a staunch supporter of Israel, has sought to leverage U.S. backing to influence Israeli military behaviour. The U.S. is a major supplier of arms to Israel.

Biden has also urged the leaders of Egypt and Qatar to pressure Hamas to agree to a ceasefire and hostage deal ahead of a fresh round of talks in Cairo.

Israel is also on alert for a possible retaliatory attack from Iran in reaction to the killing of Iranian generals on April 1.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, Maayan Lubell, Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Andrew Heavens, Andrew Cawthorne and Giles Elgood)

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Norman Sander says:

    Outsiders interfering in this conflict, are merely “kicking the can down the road”. Hamas and Iran (there suppliers and backers) are sworn to destroy the state of Israel and kill all Jews. The Israeli’s should finish this fight and make it impossible for jihadists to rise again in Palestine.
    Any good aid coming into Palestine is controlled by Hamas and you can be sure its via a black market organisation. When will the West learn aid does not assist anyone but the bad guys. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan etc etc and it is always the jihadists who are the problem. They refuse to live by civilized rules and are a law unto themselves….
    The West should pitch in with troops, to finish this fight, but they will not as this is not in line with what their voters want. Western politicians are more focused on re-election than anything else. The despotic countries don’t even have free and fair elections, they simply rule by tyranny.

    • Jeremy Kropman says:

      Why can’t you/we see that the fight has gone on for 100 years and that there will never be a finished fight? It just gets crueler and more dispicable. Isn’t 6 months ago and the psychotic response clear enough for you? Please, please, let us finally come to our senses and change this narrative. Peace/shalom/salam not war at all costs. I IMPLORE YOU

  • Helen B says:

    Priority: No deal without the release of ALL the hostages.

    • Fuad XXX says:

      For interest sake, do you think Israeli barbarism started on 7th Oct 2023? if so kindly research the Zionist Colonial Project, see what the unfortunate Palestinians had to endure for decades.

  • Fuad XXX says:

    What is so difficult to understand? Zionist Israel is the major terrorists in the region. Always about Israeli self-defence. When will Palestinian self-defence, the Occupation, mowing the lawn, the pure brutality inflicted on Palestinian children (for reference watch STONE COLD JUSTICE) lies about decapitated babies, raping of women, burning of civilians, (refer to ZAKA exposé) refusing the right of return for displaced & refugee Palestinians & this is by no means all of the Zionist Nazi Criminal Colonialist Enterprise. We Must never forget the horrors the Zionist perpetrated against the Palestinians. The Nazi Zionist occupiers should be forced to finance the rebuilding of Gaza & face Expulsion from Palestine that includes from “Israel”. All the criminal Knesset especially the Genocidal ministers, the criminal Settlers & the IDF should be prosecuted for a multitude of War Crimes & Crimes against Humanity. The Zionist Nazis has learned well & surpassed the German Nazi atrocities inflicted on the Jews.
    IT IS TIME FOR THE WORLD TO UNITE AGAINST PURE UNADULTERATED EVIL. THIS IS A TIME NEVER TO FORGET OR ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN AGAIN.
    REMEMBER IT IS THE OCCUPATION & GAZA SIEGE – PLEASE DO NOT BE SIDETRACKED.
    THE MAIN SHAREHOLDERS ARE USA, UK & EU – ZIONIST HAS TO FACE EXPULSION.

  • Farzana Araie says:

    Where will Israel ‘evacuate’ civilians to this time? Rafah was supposed to be a safe zone. Most of Gaza is uninhabitable after systematic destruction of facilities and infrastructure that can support life. Will they attempt a ‘voluntary migration’ to the Sinai desert?

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