Israeli military reports all soldiers out of Gaza as it pursues diplomatic efforts

January 21, 2009

(ChattahBox) — The Israeli army has withdrawn the last of its troops from the Gaza Strip before dawn Wednesday, it’s military said. However troops remain massed on the Israeli side of the border, prepared to take action in the event of renewed rocket fire from Hamas. The timing of the pullout reflected Israeli hopes to defuse the crisis in Gaza before President Barack Obama entered the White House.

Both sides declared cease-fires that went into effect Sunday, though they remain shaky. Israel reported mortar shelling from Gaza on Tuesday, and the Palestinians say Israeli troops shot and killed two Gaza farmers along the border since the truce took hold. The fighting ended before Israel achieved its aims, as it pursues diplomatic efforts to stop the flow of arms into the Hamas-ruled territory. World leaders have pledged to assist in efforts to keep militants from restocking war-depleted arsenals. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was heading to Brussels on Wednesday, hoping to clinch a deal committing the European Union to contribute forces, ships and technology to anti-smuggling operations, officials said. Last week, the U.S. signed an anti-smuggling deal with Israel calling for expanded intelligence cooperation between the two countries and other U.S. allies in the Middle East and Europe. The U.S. promised to supply detection and surveillance equipment, as well as logistical help and training to Israel, Egypt and other nations in the region. The equipment and training would be used to monitor Gaza’s land and sea borders.


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