Israeli army bombs Khan Younis as troops pull out

Israeli army bombs Khan Younis as troops pull out
Israeli soldiers bombed southern Gaza as they withdrew from the area, with officials stating that the army plans to regroup and attack Rafah
3 min read
08 April, 2024
Israeli forces bombed Khan Younis as troops withdrew from the area [Getty]

Israel’s military bombed southern Gaza after announcing on Sunday that they were withdrawing their forces from the area, after four months of attacks. operations.

An Israeli military statement said that the army's 98th commando division had left the Gaza Strip "in order to recuperate and prepare for future operations".

The last of the soldiers from the Commando Brigade were involved in fighting on Saturday afternoon, leaving no more ground troops in the southern Gaza Strip, according to Haaretz.

The army added that a "significant force" continues to operate in the Gaza Strip, saying that one brigade has remained in the south.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that the troops launched raids on farmland south of Khan Younis and bombed areas west of Rafah as they left. Areas of Gaza City were also shelled.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that the withdrawal was as part of the wider plan to continue the army’s operation in Rafah, where around 1.4 million displaced Palestinians have fled.

"The forces are exiting and preparing for their next missions, we saw examples of such missions in the al-Shifa operation, and also of their coming mission in the Rafah area," he said in a meeting with military officials.

The White House said that the pull out of troops was largely for them to "rest and refit", despite the exact reasons behind the move being unclear.

Johan Kirby, the White House National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said the troops were likely in need of rest following months of ongoing operations.

"The indications that we’ve been getting from them this morning is this is really largely rest and refit for troops that have been on the ground consecutively now for four months and they need a chance to come out now," he said on Sunday, adding he "can't speak to" what will happen with the troops after that.

After Israel withdrew its forces, many Palestinians returned to their devastated homes.

Around 400,000 Palestinians lived in Khan Younis prior to 7 October, however, much of the area has now been reduced to rubble.

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War hits six month mark

The decision was made at the same time as the war on Gaza reached the six month mark, with over 33,175 Palestinians in the enclave killed since 7 October.

Israel has for over a month been threatening to launch an attack on Rafah, located on the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt.

Israel has also stated that there are plans for the evacuation of the city, without mentioning where the millions of displaced people will be moved to.

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned in February that an assault on Rafah would "put the final nail in the coffin" of humanitarian aid operations.

Washington has also repeatedly called on Israel to not launch an all-out attack on Rafah.