Monday Briefing: Israel Pulls Some Troops from Southern Gaza

Palestinians returning to Khan Younis after Israel said it had pulled a division of soldiers from the city.Credit…Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Israel withdraws some troops

The Israeli military said it withdrew a division of ground troops from southern Gaza yesterday. The move raised questions about its plans as the war reached the six-month mark — Israeli media reported that the withdrawal meant there were no Israeli troops actively maneuvering in southern Gaza.

It was unclear what the latest drawdown of forces meant for the prospect of an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city. Israel has significantly reduced the number of troops it has on the ground over the past several months. Only a fraction of the soldiers that it had deployed in the territory earlier in the war remain.

Israel has routed Hamas in much of Gaza, and fighting seems to have slowed. But the conflict is being drawn out by Israel’s reluctance to either hold ground it has captured or transfer its control to an alternative Palestinian leadership.

The withdrawal came as international mediators were set to meet in Cairo to pick up stalled negotiations on a temporary cease-fire and the release of hostages held in the enclave. At the same time, concerns have mounted that Iran will retaliate for an Israeli strike in Syria that killed senior commanders of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

In Israel: The military said it had retrieved and repatriated the body of a 47-year-old hostage held in Gaza.

In Gaza: Khobeza, a spinach-like wild plant that sprouts after rains, has become a lifeline for hungry people.

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