Israeli forces withdraw from southern Gaza | india | Hindustan Times
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Israeli forces withdraw from southern Gaza

india Updated: Oct 24, 2006 16:32 IST

The Israeli army announced on Tuesday that it had withdrawn from the south of the Gaza Strip after a week-long operation in which it said it had destroyed 15 tunnels allegedly used to smuggle arms from Egypt.

An army spokesman said, however, Israeli forces operating in the north of the coastal strip "will continue their mission until new orders."

Two battalions, or around 1,000 soldiers, were deployed in south Gaza along the border with Egypt during the operation, which the army said marked its deepest incursion into Gaza since Israel withdrew from the coastal strip last year after a 38-year occupation.

Israeli officials have issued repeated warnings in the past week that the Jewish state would up its ongoing our-month offensive in Gaza with the aim of stopping militants from firing rockets and to stem what it says is an increasing flow of arms smuggling from Egyptian territory.

The operation in southern Gaza was part of an offensive that Israel launched in Gaza on June 28, three days after militants there seized a soldier and killed two others in a cross-border raid.

The offensive has seen more than 250 Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers killed.