Israeli Troops Regroup, Pull Out of Southern Gaza

( -The Israeli military says it has pulled most of its troops out of the Southern Gaza city of Khan Younis in a reorganization to prepare for an offensive in the city of Rafah, which contains half the entire population of Gaza.

It has been six months since the governing body of Gaza, the terrorist group Hamas, invaded Israel’s borders in October 2023 and slaughtered more than 1,000 civilians. While most of the Israeli troops have left Khan Younis, military spokespeople anonymously told the Associated Press that a “significant force” will stay in the city, which is the hometown of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.

Destruction in Khan Younis is everywhere to see as residents climb over burnt-out cars, destroyed buildings, and debris. Local man Amhad Abu al-Rish said, “Animals can’t live here, so how is a human supposed to?”

Israel has its eye on the city of Rafah where it believes it can take out a significant number of Hamas fighters. But the city houses half the population of Gaza, and other countries including the U.S. oppose the plan to invade the city out of concern for the civilian population. John Kirby, national security spokesman for the White House, said on April 7th that the U.S. thinks Israel is leaving Khan Younis so troops can get some rest. The departure is “not necessarily” an indication that the soldiers will be sent on a new campaign.

But other sources indicate that may be Israel’s plan. The country has said it wants to invade Rafah. Local television news outlet Channel 13 is reporting that the military is planning to start evacuating civilians within a week. Presumably, they will be allowed to return to cities like Khan Younis where troops have departed.

Meanwhile, many Israeli citizens are angry with the government for failing to get all the Hamas-kidnapped hostages back. Hamas took 250 Israeli citizens last October, and 130 are still being held captive. The Israeli government says about 25 percent of the remaining hostages are dead.

At protests demanding the return of hostages, Israeli citizens expressed frustration for their compatriots and also for Gazan civilians. Talia Ezrahi called the ongoing war “an impossible reality” for Israelis and Gazans. Michael Fruchtman told reporters he would “agree to anything” in exchange for the return of the hostages and an end to “mass killings” in Gaza.

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