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March 3, 2008
IDF Pulls troops from Gaza; Hamas declares 'Victory'
It's pathetic when you think about it.
Hamas has declared "victory" after Israel has pulled its ground troops from Gaza following several days of intensive operations directed against Kassam launch sites and Hamas strong points. Using a coordinated air and land based attack, the IDF destroyed dozens of sites from where Hamas has been raining the rockets down on Israeli towns and villages in recent months. More than 100 Palestinians were killed in the actions.
Apparently, Washington was putting pressure on the Israelis:
The pullback followed days of sequential fighting that drew an appeal from Washington to end violence and rescue peace talks with the Palestinians. The withdrawal came after the IDF senior command on Sunday recommended keeping up intensive military pressure on Hamas. Anticipating the likelihood that such approval would be granted by the country's political leadership, the army moved additional reinforcements to the area. It carried out several air strikes overnight east of Jabaliya, killing five more militants, medics and Hamas said. Hamas identified four of the slain militants as its own, and the fifth was named as a member of the Palestine Resistance CommitteesIf the attacks served no other purpose, they were designed to show Hamas in a limited way the price of their continued unprovoked attacks on civilian targets. There are many in Israel calling for the government to go all the way and smash Hamas and occupy Gaza. Such a move would almost certainly derail the peace talks but would almost as certainly increase the security of the Israeli citizens whose towns border Gaza.
But such an occupation would also be bloody and involve a huge international headache for the Jewish state - one more than they need at this point. So the chances are that this is the beginning of a cycle of strike and counter strike as Hamas is punished for continuing to launch rockets at civilians.