4 August 2014

Israel withdraws most troops from Gaza

The sun rises over Gaza City, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. The Israeli military said Sunday that an Israeli soldier it previously believed had been captured by Hamas fighters in a Gaza ambush had in fact been killed in battle that day. The soldier's purported capture Friday had helped shatter an internationally brokered cease-fire, drawn global condemnation and triggered a military assault on the area of his disappearance in southern Gaza that left dozens of Palestinians dead and scores of homes destroyed.
Israel withdrew most of its ground troops from the Gaza Strip on Sunday in an apparent winding down of the nearly monthlong operation against Hamas that has left more than 1,800 Palestinians and more than 60 Israelis dead.
Even as Israel said it was close to completing its mission, heavy fighting raged in parts of Gaza, with at least 10 people killed in what U.N. and Palestinian officials said was an Israeli airstrike near a U.N. shelter. The United States lashed out at Israel, saying it was "appalled" by the "disgraceful" attack.

And with Hamas officials vowing to continue their fight, it remained uncertain whether Israel could unilaterally end the war.
Israel launched its military operation in Gaza on July 8 in response to weeks of heavy rocket fire, carrying out hundreds of airstrikes across the crowded seaside territory. It then sent in ground forces July 17 in what it said was a mission to destroy the tunnels used by Hamas to carry out attacks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media during a press conference at the defense ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday Aug. 2, 2014. Netanyahu warned Hamas on Saturday that it will "pay an intolerable price" if it continues to fire rockets at Israel, but also hinted that Israel would reassess its Gaza operation once troops have demolished Hamas military tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border.

Hamas has fired more than 3,000 rockets into Israel during what has turned into the bloodiest round of fighting ever between the two enemies.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, confirmed the bulk of ground troops had been pulled out of Gaza after the military concluded it had destroyed most of the tunnel network.
He said Israel had detected some 30 tunnels that were dug along the border for what he called a "synchronized attack" on Israel.
"We've caused substantial damage to this network to an extent where we've basically taken this huge threat and made it minimal," he said. The army had thousands of troops in Gaza at the height of the operation.
A Palestinian supporter, right, shouts at an Israeli supporter, left, during a rally near the White House in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014. A small group of Israeli supporters were surrounded by a larger group of Palestinian supporters who were protesting against the violence in Gaza.

In southern Israel, armored vehicles could be seen rolling slowly onto the back of large flatbed trucks near the Gaza border, while soldiers folded flags from atop a tank and rolled up their belongings and sleeping bags.
Lerner said, however, that the operation was not over and that Israel would continue to target Hamas' rocket-firing capabilities and its ability to infiltrate Israel.
The Israeli military said early Monday it would hold fire for a seven-hour "humanitarian window" beginning at 10 a.m. (0700 GMT), saying the truce would not apply to areas where troops were still operating. The military said it would respond to any attacks during that time.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press on against Hamas, he is coming under international pressure to halt the fighting because of the heavy civilian death toll.
A girl covers her ears as her mother argues with pro-Israel supporters during a rally near the White House in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, in support of ending the violence in Gaza. A small group of Israeli supporters were surrounded by a larger group of Palestinian supporters who were protesting against the violence in Gaza.

U.N. officials say more than three-quarters of the dead have been civilians, including the 10 people killed Sunday at a U.N. school that has been converted into a shelter in the southern town of Rafah.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the attack a "moral outrage and a criminal act" and demanded a quick investigation, while the U.S. State Department condemned the strike in unusually strong language.
According to witnesses, Israeli strikes hit just outside the main gates of the school. The Red Crescent, a charity, said the attack occurred while people were in line to get food from aid workers. Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said in addition to the dead, 35 people were wounded.
Robert Turner, director of operations for the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, said the building had been providing shelter for some 3,000 people. He said the strike killed at least one U.N. staffer.
A Palestinian baby girl, lightly wounded in an Israeli strike at a house in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, receives treatment, at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan Hospital, in Beit Lahiya, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.

"The locations of all these installations have been passed to the Israeli military multiple times," Turner said. "They know where these shelters are. How this continues to happen, I have no idea."
Inside the U.N. school's compound, several bodies, among them children, were strewn across the ground in puddles of blood. "Our trust and our fate are only in the hands of God!" one woman cried.
The Israeli military said it had targeted three wanted militants on a motorcycle in the vicinity and was "reviewing the consequences of this strike."
In the current round of fighting, U.N. shelters have been struck by fire seven times. UNRWA, the U.N. agency that assists Palestinian refugees, says Israel has been the source of fire in all instances. But it also has said it found caches of rockets in vacant UNRWA schools three times.
A Palestinian, wounded in an Israeli strike at a house in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, is wheeled into the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan Hospital, in Beit Lahiya, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.

Israel accuses Hamas of using civilian areas for cover and says the Islamic militant group is responsible for the heavy death toll because it has been using civilians as "human shields."
Israeli artillery shells slammed into two high-rise office buildings Sunday in downtown Gaza City, police and witnesses said. Al-Kidra said more than 50 Palestinians were killed, including 10 members of one family in a single strike in the southern Gaza Strip.
A Palestinian, wounded in an Israeli strike at a house in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, waits to be treated, at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan Hospital, in Beit Lahiya, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.

Israel said that it attacked 63 sites on Sunday and that nearly 100 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel.
Also Sunday, the Israeli military said it found three motorcycles in one of the tunnels leading to Israel. It said the vehicles were meant to facilitate an attack against Israelis and help militants get around more quickly.
Israeli officials said the military would reduce its ground activities in Gaza but would respond to continued attacks from Gaza with airstrikes.
"It's not a withdrawal," Israeli Cabinet minister Amir Peretz told Channel 10 TV. "It's setting up a new line that is a more controlled line with the air force doing its work."
In Gaza, Hamas officials said they would not halt the rocket fire without an end to an Israeli blockade of the territory that has devastated the local economy. Israel imposed the blockade in 2007, saying the measures are needed to keep Hamas from arming.
Palestinians, wounded in an Israeli strike at a house in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, lie on the floor as they receive treatment, at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan Hospital, in Beit Lahiya, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.

"If Israel stops unilaterally, Hamas will declare victory and will not grant any security or truce to Israel," said one senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing internal Hamas deliberations. "In this case, we are going to live under a war of attrition until a political solution is found."
Palestinians, wounded in an Israeli strike at a house in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, receive treatment, at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan Hospital, in Beit Lahiya, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.

In Cairo, Egyptian and Palestinian negotiators held talks over a potential cease-fire. After accusing Hamas of repeatedly violating humanitarian cease-fire arrangements, Israel said it would not attend the talks and there was "no point" in negotiating with the militant group.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military death toll rose to 64 after Israel announced that Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old infantry lieutenant feared captured in Gaza, was actually killed in battle. Some 15,000 people attended his funeral Sunday.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon revealed on his Facebook page Sunday that he is a distant relative of Goldin and had known him his whole life. The information was previously kept under wraps while Goldin was feared abducted. 
(AP)
Palestinians, wounded in an Israeli strike at a house in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, receive treatment, at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan Hospital, in Beit Lahiya, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
Palestinians, wounded in an Israeli strike at a house in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, lie on the floor at they are treated, at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan Hospital, in Beit Lahiya, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
A man stands between dead and wounded Palestinians outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people.
Men inspect dead and wounded Palestinians outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people.
A Palestinian boy who was wounded in an Israeli strike on a house in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, sits on the floor as he waits to be treated at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital, in Beit Lahiya, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
A Palestinian boy who was wounded in an Israeli strike on a house in Beit Lahiya shares a bed with an adult as they are treated at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan Hospital, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
Palestinians who were wounded in an Israeli strike on a house in Beit Lahiya lie on the floor at they are treated at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan Hospital, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
A woman overcome by emotion stands between dead bodies and wounded Palestinians outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people.
Men inspect the lifeless and wounded Palestinians outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people.
A Palestinian man carries a child killed in a blast outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people.
Palestinians carry a person killed in a blast outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people.
Palestinians evacuate a person killed in a blast outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people.
A Palestinian surgeon gives orders to hospital staff to clean the operation room as he treats a man who was wounded in an Israeli strike on a house in Beit Lahiya, in the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
A Palestinian carries a boy, wounded in an Israeli strike at a house in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, into the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan Hospital, in Beit Lahiya, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
Palestinians evacuate a survivor of an Israeli air strike that hit the Al Ghoul family building in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. At least 40 people were inside the Al Ghoul family building in Rafah Camp when it was targeted by Israeli jet fighters, according to the Red Crescent and Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. Many have been confirmed dead and over two dozen have been wounded.
Palestinians evacuate a survivor after an Israeli air strike hit the Al Ghoul family building in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. At least 40 people were inside the Al Ghoul family building in Rafah Camp when it was targeted by Israeli jet fighters, according to the Red Crescent and Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. Many have been confirmed dead and over two dozen have been wounded.
A Palestinian relative of the Abu Wahdan family cries outside a damaged house in the Jebaliya refugee camp that was hit by an Israeli strike that killed several members of the family, in the northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. Jamila, 55, Hatem, 57, and Sanwara Abu Wahdan, 27, were killed at the house after the extended family of more than 40 people had sought refuge in Jebaliya from shelling elsewhere.
A relative carries the lifeless body of a child during the funeral of members of Al Ghoul family in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. At least 40 people were inside the Al Ghoul family building in Rafah refugee camp when it was targeted by Israeli jet fighters, according to the Red Crescent and Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. Many have been confirmed dead and over two dozen have been wounded.
A relative carries a dead baby during the funeral of members of Al Ghoul family in the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. At least 40 people were inside the Al Ghoul family building in Rafah when it was targeted by Israeli jet fighters, according to the Red Crescent and Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. Many have been confirmed dead and over two dozen have been wounded.
Palestinians evacuate a survivor of an Israeli air strike that hit the Al Ghoul family building in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. At least 40 people were inside the Al Ghoul family building in the Rafah when it was targeted by Israeli jet fighters, according to the Red Crescent and Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. Many have been confirmed dead and over two dozen have been wounded.
Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
Palestinian mourners weep as they identify the lifeless body of 9-year-old Rajab Al Shrafi, at the morgue of the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahiya, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. According to the family, Rajab, his mother Najah, 41, and his cousin Mahmoud, 24, were all killed in the family house earlier on Sunday in an Israeli strike.
Israeli soldiers mourn over the grave of Israeli Army 2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin during his funeral at the military cemetery in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. Israel announced that Goldin, a 23-year-old infantry lieutenant feared captured in Gaza, was actually killed in battle. Israel had earlier said it feared he had been captured by Hamas militants Friday near Rafah in an ambush that shattered an internationally brokered cease-fire and was followed by heavy Israeli shelling that left dozens of Palestinians dead.
A Palestinian man weeps after identifying the body of 9-year-old Rajab Al Shrafi, at the morgue of the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahiya, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. According to the family, Rajab, his mother Najah, 41, and his cousin Mahmoud, 24, were all killed in the family house earlier on Sunday in an Israeli strike.
Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of Israeli Army 2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin during his funeral at the military cemetery in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. Israel announced that Goldin, a 23-year-old infantry lieutenant feared captured in Gaza, was actually killed in battle. Israel had earlier said it feared he had been captured by Hamas militants Friday near Rafah in an ambush that shattered an internationally brokered cease-fire and was followed by heavy Israeli shelling that left dozens of Palestinians dead.
Palestinian medics stand around a body of a man killed in an Israeli strike and laid next to a cooling fan on the floor of the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
Smoke rises from an Israeli strike over Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.
An Israeli drone circles over Gaza City on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014.

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