Israel Pulling Thousands Of Troops From Gaza, Military Says

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Thousands of Israeli soldiers are being shifted out of the Gaza Strip, the military said Monday, in the first significant drawdown of troops since the war began as forces continued to bear down on the main city in the southern half of the enclave.The troop movement could signal that fighting

Powered by NewsAPI , in Liberal Perspective on .

news image

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Thousands of Israeli soldiers are being shifted out of the Gaza Strip, the military said Monday, in the first significant drawdown of troops since the war began as forces continued to bear down on the main city in the southern half of the enclave.

The troop movement could signal that fighting is being scaled back in some areas of Gaza, particularly in the northern half where the military has said it is close to assuming operational control. Israel has been under pressure from its chief ally, the United States, to begin to switch to lower-intensity fighting.

Word of the drawdown came ahead of a visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the region and after the Biden administration bypassed Congress for the second time this month to approve an emergency weapons sale to Israel.

But fierce fighting continued in other areas of Gaza, especially the southern city Khan Younis and central areas of the territory. Israel has pledged to charge ahead until its war aims have been achieved, including dismantling Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for 16 years.

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

In a briefing Sunday that first announced the troop withdrawal without specifying how many forces were leaving, army spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari did not say whether the decision meant Israel was launching a new phase of the war.

“The objectives of the war require prolonged fighting, and we are preparing accordingly,” he said.

Israel has 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 1,2srcsrc people. Roughly 24src people were taken hostage.

Israel responded with a blistering air, ground and sea offensive that has killed more than 21,9srcsrc people in Gaza, two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count.

Israel says more than 8,srcsrcsrc militants have been killed, without providing evidence. It blames Hamas for the high civilian death toll, saying the militants embed 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.

BATTLES IN THE SOUTH

In Khan Younis, where Israel is believed to have thousands of troops, residents reported airstrikes and shelling in the west and center of the city. The military and the militant group Islamic Jihad reported clashes in the area.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said on X, formerly Twitter, that it transported several dead and injured following a strike late Sunday in the Beach Street in Khan Younis. It posted nighttime footage showing medics carrying casualties to ambulances.

Combat was also reported in urban refugee camps in central Gaza, where Israel expanded its offensive last week.

“It’s our routine: bombings, massacres and martyrs,” said Saeed Moustafa, a Palestinian from the Nuseirat camp. He said he could hear sporadic explosions and gunfire in Nuseirat and in the nearby Bureij and Maghazi camps.

“Just as we speak, there is a big explosion not far from my home,” he said in a phone call Monday morning.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said Monday that 156 people were killed in the past day.

The Israeli military meanwhile said an airstrike killed Adel Mismah, a regional commander of Hamas’ elite Nukhba forces, in the central city of Deir al-Balah.

Hamas fired a large barrage of rockets toward Israel, including at its commercial hub Tel Aviv, as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve.

‘A DIFFERENT MODE OF OPERATION’

Israel has said the war will last for months. It has argued that it needs time to clear Gaza of militants’ weapons and infrastructure and to prevent Hamas from being able to stage more attacks. Israel has resisted international calls for a long-term cease-fire, saying doing so would amount to a victory for Hamas.

Shlomo Brom, a retired brigadier general once in charge of strategic planning in the Israeli military, said the troop changes may be a result of the U.S. pressure. He said it indicated a shift in how Israel was conducting the war in some areas.

“The war is not stopping,” said Brom. “It is the beginning of a different mode of operation.”

Israelis still largely support the wars aims, even as the cost in soldiers’ lives is mounting.

Over the weekend, the military said that of the soldiers killed since the ground operation began — as of Monday, 172 in total — 18 were killed by friendly fire while another 11 died by weapons or equipment malfunctions or accidents.

___

Jobain reported from Rafah, Gaza Strip and Magdy from Cairo.

___

Support HuffPost

The Stakes Have Never Been Higher

At HuffPost, we believe that everyone needs high-quality journalism, but we understand that not everyone can afford to pay for expensive news subscriptions. That is why we are committed to providing deeply reported, carefully fact-checked news that is freely accessible to everyone.

Our News, Politics and Culture teams invest time and care working on hard-hitting investigations and researched analyses, along with quick but robust daily takes. Our Life, Health and Shopping desks provide you with well-researched, expert-vetted information you need to live your best life, while HuffPost Personal, Voices and Opinion center real stories from real people.

Help keep news free for everyone by giving us as little as $1. Your contribution will go a long way.

At HuffPost, we believe that everyone needs high-quality journalism, but we understand that not everyone can afford to pay for expensive news subscriptions. That is why we are committed to providing deeply reported, carefully fact-checked news that is freely accessible to everyone.

Help keep news free for everyone by giving us as little as $1. Your contribution will go a long way.

As the 2src24 presidential race heats up, the very foundations of our democracy are at stake. A vibrant democracy is impossible without well-informed citizens. This is why HuffPost’s journalism is free for everyone, not just those who can afford expensive paywalls.

We cannot do this without your help. Support our newsroom by contributing as little as $1 a month.

As the 2src24 presidential race heats up, the very foundations of our democracy are at stake. At HuffPost, we believe that a vibrant democracy is impossible without well-informed citizens. This is why we keep our journalism free for everyone, even as most other newsrooms have retreated behind expensive paywalls.

Our newsroom continues to bring you hard-hitting investigations, well-researched analysis and timely takes on one of the most consequential elections in recent history. Reporting on the current political climate is a responsibility we do not take lightly — and we need your help.

Support our newsroom by contributing as little as $1 a month.

Support HuffPost

Related

Israel

Read More