woensdag 21 januari 2009

IDF heeft alle soldaten uit Gazastrook teruggetrokken

Het staakt-het-vuren is al verschillende malen geschonden, met name door de Palestijnen, en de Shin Beth beschuldigt Hamas ervan hulpgoeren te confisceren, iets dat ook tijdens de gevechten meermaals werd gezegd. Het zou mooi zijn als de internationale gemeenschap alsong eist dat Hamas instemt met onafhankelijke controles bij de grens, bijvoorbeeld als voorwaarde voor open grenzen. Hier ligt wellicht een rol voor Obama?

Last update - 09:52 21/01/2009

IDF completes pullout of all soldiers from Gaza
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent and Agencies

The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday said it had withdrawn all of its soldiers from Gaza, three-and-a-half weeks after launching Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the coastal territory.

The pullout was completed before dawn on Wednesday, according to the army.

Israel sent thousands of troops into the Palestinian territory earlier this month as part of the bruising 22-day offensive against militants who have terrorized southern Israel with rocket fire for years.

The timing of the pullout reflected Israeli hopes to defuse the crisis in Gaza before President Barack Obama entered the White House.

The IDF said troops remain massed on the Israeli side of the border, prepared to take action in the event of renewed militant fire. And Israeli navy ships reportedly shot rounds of machine-gun fire at the beaches of northern Gaza.

The military had no immediate comment on the gunboat fire.

Both sides declared cease-fires that went into effect Sunday. But the truce has been shaky.

Israel reported mortar shelling from Gaza on Tuesday. The Palestinians have said Israeli troops shot to death two farmers since the truce took hold.

The military said some troops remain massed on the Israeli side of the border prepared to take action against renewed militant fire.

The liaison office for civilian territories, meanwhile, said Hamas is intentionally harming humanitarian aid transferred from Israel by firing mortars at the Karni, Kissufim and Kerem Shalom crossings. The liaison office and Shin Bet security service both accused Hamas of looting trucks bringing supplies into Gaza.

The Shin Bet also reported many instances since the cease-fire of Hamas members shooting and wounding Fatah activists in Gaza.

The Israel Air Force on Tuesday attacked areas in the Gaza Strip from which Palestinians fired mortar shells. The Israel Defense Forces said that about eight mortar shells were shot from near a central Gaza refugee camp, apparently by Hamas. Two of the shells landed in the Strip and the rest fell in open territory in the western Negev near the border.

At this stage, the IDF is holding its fire after its attack at around 6 P.M. Tuesday.

The Palestinians also fired light weapons into Israel on Tuesday, from both north and south of the Kissufim crossing. An explosive charge was also apparently set off.

Also Tuesday, the IDF began to discharge reservists who took part in Operation Cast Lead. Military sources, however, said a harsh aerial response can be expected if the cross-border attacks continue.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi visited Southern Command headquarters Tuesday and met senior officers who took part in the operation. Olmert also heard reviews from brigade commanders.

Olmert thanked the IDF, Southern Command and the Shin Bet for their performance during the three-week war. He also commented on criticism from officers in the three days since the cease-fire took effect.

Olmert said he had considered allowing the army to continue the attack as GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen Yoav Gallant had sought, but felt this would have required a period of time "for which we did not a sufficient diplomatic window."

The IDF plans to expand the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip in the coming days.

The IDF has also taken preliminary steps to defend military officers against legal charges abroad stemming from their involvement in Operation Cast Lead. The full names of battalion commanders involved in the fighting will be censored to prevent Israeli and international left-wing activists from attempting to try them for war crimes. The names of more senior officers cannot be redacted as their involvement and names have been reported by many media outlets.

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