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Israel Begins Gradual Withdrawal from Gaza

  • VOA News

Israel on Sunday began what it called a gradual withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and Hamas announced its own cease-fire a day after Israel halted its three-week offensive in the Palestinian territory.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he wants to withdraw troops from the territory as soon as possible. Hamas said it was giving Israeli forces one week to leave.

Israeli officials did not say how many troops they were pulling out, but witnesses saw tanks and infantry soldiers going toward the Israeli border.

Despite the Hamas announcement of a cease-fire, militants in Gaza fired at least three rockets into southern Israel.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh claimed the offensive in Gaza was a failure for Israel and a great victory for the Palestinians.


Israel announced a unilateral cease-fire Saturday. Following that announcement, Palestinian militants fired at least 12 rockets at Israel, and Israeli warplanes fired at Hamas rocket launchers.

Mr. Olmert called the cease-fire in Gaza "fragile," and said Israel will not hesitate to respond if Hamas continues to launch attacks.

Palestinian health officials say at least 12-hundred Palestinians died and more than five thousand were wounded in the offensive.

Thirteen Israelis, three of them civilians, were also killed in the military operation that began December 27th.

Palestinian officials say they have recovered almost 100 more bodies from rubble in (the Beit Lahiya area of) northern Gaza.

Israel says it attacked to stop militant rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.

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