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Israel begins partial drawdown of troops from Gaza

Israel begins partial drawdown of troops from Gaza

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The Israeli military has started withdrawing units from Gaza, indicating that a new phase of the war has begun, though officials said the conflict is far from over.

“Some of the reservists will return to their families and employment this week,” an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said.

The decision to move soldiers out of Gaza will “significantly ease the burden on the economy and allow them to gather strength for the upcoming activities in the next year,” as fighting is expected to continue into 2024.

Israeli figures say 8,000 militants have been killed since the Gaza offensive, while the total number of deaths, including civilians, is approximately 22,000, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

The IDF’s stated goal is to “dismantle the Hamas terrorist organization’s military and administrative capabilities,” no easy feat in a densely-packed urban landscape riddled with an extensive underground tunnel system that protects militants and helps hide hostages.

Israel pulled tanks out of some Gaza City districts on Monday, after the announcement of the shift in tactics and reduction in troop numbers, Reuters reported. But fighting raged elsewhere in the Palestinian enclave along with intense bombardment.

Although American President Joe Biden gave full-throated support for Israel in the wake of the October 7 attack by Hamas militants, which killed 1,300 and saw hundreds of Israeli and foreign civilians abducted, the United States has since urged Israel to take measures to reduce civilian casualties.

Fighting in the north of the strip has tapered, though fighting in the south continues to rage as Israel seeks to destroy Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for 16 years.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Israel for tens of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition and propellant charges.

The United States is also leading an effort to keep maritime trade lanes through the Red Sea open despite attacks on shipping by the Houthis, an Iranian-backed militia group in Yemen. The U.S. Navy destroyed three boats carrying Houthi rebels on Sunday after fighters attempted to board a container ship.

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