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Israeli troops withdrawn from Gaza to prepare Rafah operation: defense minister

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-04-08 03:49

Palestinians inspect destroyed residential buildings, after the Israeli military withdrew most of its ground troops from the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip April 7, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM -- Israeli troops were withdrawn from southern Gaza in preparation for a possible operation in the city of Rafah, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Sunday.

The forces left Gaza on Sunday are preparing for "follow-up missions," said Gallant during a tour at the Southern Command of Israel Defense Forces (IDF), adding that "we saw examples of such missions in Shifa (hospital), and will see such missions in the Rafah area."

Israel withdrew all ground troops from southern Gaza except for the Nahal Brigade, which remains in central Gaza, splitting the Strip in two and preventing the return of civilians from south to north of Gaza.

Also on Sunday evening, the IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi told a press conference that the military operation against Hamas is "far from" over, despite the withdrawal of soldiers.

"Senior Hamas officials are still in hiding. We will get to them sooner or later," he vowed.

Halevi also said that the IDF is well-prepared on multiple fronts against Iran and its proxies, in response to potential retaliation following the strike on the Iranian consulate building in the Syrian capital earlier this week.

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