Israel withdraws ground troops from south Gaza as truce talks resume in Cairo

Only one brigade is left to secure the corridor splitting the enclave

Israel withdraws troops in south Gaza Israeli military troops in Gaza | Reuters

As Hamas prepares for a new truce deal in Cairo, Israel on Sunday withdrew more soldiers from southern Gaza. Since the start of the year, Israel has been reducing the troops deployed in Gaza under intensified pressure from its ally United States and other countries to pave the way to improve the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. 

IDF has not given the exact reasons for withdrawing the troops. However, they confirmed the withdrawal. Troops of the 98th Division were pulled out of the Khan Younis area after four straight months of fighting, the IDF said. Now, only one brigade is left to secure the corridor splitting the enclave.

The Nahal Brigade has been tasked with securing the so-called Netzarim Corridor, which crosses Gaza from the Be’eri area in southern Israel to the Strip’s coast, reported The Times of Israel.

The corridor enables the IDF to carry out raids in northern and central Gaza. It also allows humanitarian aid to be delivered directly to northern Gaza. 

Meanwhile, both Hamas and Israel confirmed that their delegations will be present for the Cairo mediation talks. 

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said the troop reduction appeared to be a "rest and refit" and not necessarily indicative of any new operations.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel would not bend to foreign pressure and give in to "extreme demands". Netanyahu said that it is "one step away from victory" but insists there will be no ceasefire without the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. 

"Netanyahu is still stalling to save himself from failure and the responsibility for the day after the battle. It seems that the U.S. pressure is not enough to compel him to go for a complete and comprehensive ceasefire," Basem Naim, a Hamas leader, was quoted by Reuters

Over 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli offensive so far. Another Gaza hostage was found dead by the Israeli military on Saturday during the Khan Yunis raids. Around 120 hostages are still held captive by Hamas. 

Thousands of Israelis took to the streets to protest against Netanyahu, as the war reached 6-month mark. Chanting “elections now”, protesters called for the Israeli prime minister’s resignation, with the war in Gaza set to enter its seventh month on Sunday.

Rallies were also held in other cities, with Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid taking part in one in Kfar Saba ahead of his departure for talks in Washington.

“They haven’t learned anything, they haven’t changed,” he said, adding, “until we send them home, they won’t give this country a chance to move forward.”

Protesters in Tel Aviv were joined by families of Gaza hostages and their supporters. 

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