Bombed building with a red tape

Israel reduces troop presence in Southern Gaza amid ongoing conflict

Israel reduces troops in southern Gaza after six months of conflict, as civilian casualties rise and international pressure mounts for a ceasefire.

Six months after Hamas attacked southern Israeli border communities, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages, Israel’s military has announced a reduction in the number of soldiers deployed in southern Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman, Lt Col Peter Lerner, stated that only one brigade would remain in the area, although a “significant force” would still be present in Gaza.

The pull-out is being seen as a tactical move rather than an indication of the war’s imminent end. Lt Col Lerner emphasized that the war is not over until the hostages return home and Hamas is removed from power.

He also mentioned that more operations need to be conducted, particularly in Rafah, which is considered a Hamas stronghold.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry, more than 33,000 Gazans have been killed since the start of Israel’s offensive, with the majority being civilians. Gaza is also on the brink of famine, with Oxfam reporting that 300,000 people trapped in the north have been living on an average of 245 calories a day since January.

Despite the troop reduction, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant stated that the troops were leaving to prepare for follow-up missions. He praised their achievements in Khan Younis, claiming that Hamas had ceased to function as a military organization throughout Gaza.

International pressure for a ceasefire is growing, with the United States, Israel’s closest ally, warning that its continued support for the Gaza war depends on “specific, concrete steps” to increase aid and prevent civilian casualties.

On the six-month anniversary of the war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel was “one step away from victory” but insisted that there would be no ceasefire without the release of Israeli hostages.

He also highlighted the elimination of 19 of Hamas’s 24 battalions, including senior commanders, as considerable achievements of the war.

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