Israel Pulls Most Troops From Gaza

Most of tunnel network is destroyed, says Israeli spokesman

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Aug 3, 2014 5:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Israel withdrew most of its ground troops from the Gaza Strip today in an apparent winding down of the nearly month-long operation against Hamas that has left more than 1,800 Palestinians and more than 60 Israelis dead. Even as Israel said it was close to completing its mission, heavy fighting raged in parts of Gaza, with at least 10 people killed in what UN and Palestinian officials said was an Israeli airstrike near a UN shelter. The US lashed out at Israel, saying it was "appalled" by the "disgraceful" attack. And with Hamas officials vowing to continue their fight, it remained uncertain whether Israel could unilaterally end the war. (CNN reports that Israel has announced a 7-hour ceasefire, but Hamas has not agreed to it.)

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, confirmed the bulk of ground troops had been pulled out of Gaza after the military concluded it had destroyed most of the tunnel network. He said Israel had detected some 30 tunnels that were dug along the border for what he called a "synchronized attack" on Israel. "We've caused substantial damage to this network to an extent where we've basically taken this huge threat and made it minimal," he said. The army had thousands of troops in Gaza at the height of the operation. Click for more.

Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.   (Dusan Vranic)
Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of Israeli Army 2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin during his funeral at the military cemetery in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of Israeli Army 2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin during his funeral at the military cemetery in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.   (Oded Balilty)
A woman overcome by emotion stands between dead bodies and wounded Palestinians outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
A woman overcome by emotion stands between dead bodies and wounded Palestinians outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.   (Hatem Ali)
A Palestinian man weeps after identifying the body of 9-year-old Rajab Al Shrafi, at the morgue of the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahiya, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
A Palestinian man weeps after identifying the body of 9-year-old Rajab Al Shrafi, at the morgue of the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahiya, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.   (Lefteris Pitarakis)
Israeli soldiers mourn over the grave of Israeli Army 2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin during his funeral at the military cemetery in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
Israeli soldiers mourn over the grave of Israeli Army 2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin during his funeral at the military cemetery in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.   (Oded Balilty)
Israelis soldiers walk in a staging area near the Israel Gaza border, Saturday, August 2, 2014.
Israelis soldiers walk in a staging area near the Israel Gaza border, Saturday, August 2, 2014.   (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
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